The character of Abigail is often accused of being one-dimensional. She doesn’t express one shred of remorse the entire time, making her seem almost inhumanly diabolical. However, even though Abigail’s actions are ruthless, they are in some ways understandable. Miller slips in an interesting detail about Abigail’s childhood that gives us a clue as to where her mercilessness might stem from. When she was younger, Abigail witnessed both of her parents murder. She tells the other girls, “I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ head on the pillow next to mine” (I. 19).
It’s no surprise that a person exposed to such brutality at a young age might eventually act brutally herself. Her ruthless, manipulative tactics might also be a result of her low social position. She does have it pretty bad. She’s an orphan, she’s an unmarried teenager, and worst of all for her (in Puritan society), she’s a female. The only person lower than her is probably is the African American slave Tituba. On top of all that, Elizabeth Proctor has been going around dropping hints that Abigail is sleezy, lowering Abby’s social status even more.
With all this in mind, it’s pretty understandable that Abigail might seize any chance to gain power. Abigail is beautiful, intelligent, crafty, and vindictive. She’s also a skillful liar. She is the leader of her group of girlfriends and is willing to do anything to protect herself. The angelic part of her personality is gone after the first act when it is discovered that she accused Goody Procter of witchcraft. Although Abigail seems like an innocent girl in the beginning of The Crucible, her ruthless, persuasive, and wicked personality leads her to her lustful plot to murder making her the representative of the devil she projects on others.
She goes out of her way to get the troubles off of her and on to someone else. Abigail seems to bring the evil to the play. She has the willness to make her self look good and put others down. She interacts with witchcraft and believes in it. She lies about everything and tells lies to get the trouble off of her. She steals from the Reverend and runs away. The issues of power, that Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, portrays are concerned with, who has the power, the shifts of power that take place and ow power can consume people and try to abuse it, for either vengeance, jealously, material gain or sexual desire. The high court and the girls become consumed in their newfound power.
They reversed the order of the village and they are now above the men, women, adults and parents and they have total control of the church. So it is quite evident why they got carried away. The girls were able to blemish a person’s reputation, take land, send someone to jail and sentence people the death. The power they gained was used and abused.
Abigail uses her power by seeking vengeance on Elizabeth Proctor, she hope to have her killed and out of the way, because of her sexual desire for John Proctor, when he refuses her advances she seeks vengeance on him as well. The Putnam’s, who also become more powerful and driven by greed, also use this tactic to gain more land and money. Mrs Putnam accuses Rebecca Nurse, because she is jealous of the fact that all her children grew up healthy. Because these motives are considered as sinful and are frowned upon, they use the church and the witch hunts to mask their real motives.
As the majority of the community are for the hangings, the minority, that is to say the Proctors and other accused victims are easily ignored and dealt with. The death of the innocent and John Proctor serve as a warning to the issues involved with power and its misuse. It will always be an issue in any society because power will always be a part of human nature and existence. People either want to tell others what to do or be told what to do, other wise everyone would feel lost. Power is not such a good thing if it’s abused and rationality is forgotten.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 7 January 2017
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