Abigail Williams is about 18 years old although historically her age has been increased. Abigail Williams is Reverend Parris’s niece and ward. Abigail used to be the Proctor’s housemaid, but was dismissed, which we later found out was because of the affair she had with Proctor. Abigail’s main contributions to the events are that she leads Tituba and her friends to dance and conjure spirits in the forest at the start of the play. She also has had an affair with John Proctor and she tries to tempt him into continuing that affair.
Abigail Williams is the main cause of the irrational foolishness that has been stirred up. Abigail is the one that leads the girls in the witch-hunt that engulfs and eventually corrupts Salem. Abigail is a sadistic bully. Abigail is also very manipulative, ‘Now look you. All of you. We danced, and Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. That is all’. She says this to scare the girls and to make sure that the girls do not tell anyone that they are lying.
This shows that Abigail only looks after herself and she is self centred.
Abigail also loves to be the centre of attention, ‘I want to open myself! I want the light of God; I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil: I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil! ‘ In saying this Abigail starts blaming people from the community.
Her control over the girls in the Town is dominant and forcible. She bullies them with vicious, threatening words. Her motives are hard to see when you study the different aspects of her character.
You may see a girl who has been psychologically damaged through trauma and distress. Others may detect an evil trait in Abigail. Usually in the hierarchy of children, age tends to outweigh anything else. Abigail is clearly in command of the girls as they follow her actions and moves. I think Abigail enlists all these girls to do her work. If anything becomes too suspicious, she shifts the blame to one of the other girls, as she knows that the others will not speak up. When Betty starts talking about the dancing, Abigail slaps her violently across the face yet none of the other girls react.
All of this scene shows how immensely intimidating Abigail is capable of being. Abigail seduced Proctor whilst working for him and Elizabeth as a maid. As the relationship developed Elizabeth suspected something and eventually threw Abigail out. This was Abigail’s first experience of adult life and sex. For that to be taken away from her so suddenly must have hurt. Abigail believes that Proctor has intimate feelings for her but he was only using her for lustful sex. Proctor is one of the important characters in the play and his views represent an understanding of unity and individualism.
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