“The Crucible”: Abigail - Villain or Victim

In the play “The Crucible”, Arthur Miller has intensively outlined the intricacy of Abigail Williams, a complex character, alias as the vehicle that drives the play. Her guile actions and calumny are portrayed throughout the course of the play, and her presence seems to allocate into boundless hysteria and fuel the Salem witch trials. However, as the play unfolds, the vulnerable and grieving perspective of Abigail are revealed such that Abigail might be a victim of unfulfilled lust and a victim of the austere Puritan society, where people are drowned in the stupidity of “witchcraft”.

Abigail didn’t express any remorse towards her accusations and her dissembling nature is so bewildering that one can describe her as lascivious and inhumane, yet some of her ruthless deeds are to a point, understandable because of how the Puritan society has forced her to conduct those sins relentlessly and shaped her into becoming that villain.

The overture of the play is where the readers started to realise the consequences and seriousness of the “witchcraft” in Salem.

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Abigail Williams is officially introduced in the dialogue of Reverend Parris and her. The context of the play revealed an important event that occurred in the night where the girls, including Abigail, are seen to be “dancing in the woods”. This might seem conventional to us but extremely startling for the Puritan society, as Miller used stage direction when Parris asked Abigail to sit down[Quavering, as she sits], which shows that she acknowledges the trouble they had caused and is devastated too when Parris sees her daughter Betty, whose fainted.

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This conveys that both of the characters are overly frightened by the situation as the people that time would think that the girls conjured spirits in the forest the Puritans in the 17th century defined anything by either the act of God or the devil.

Abigail’s exposure is exhibited because she later admitted the truth. “Uncle we did dance let you tell them I confessed it- and I’ll be whipped if I must be. But they’re speakin’ of witchcraft. ” This implies that she is a principled and honest character up to this point because of her brave confession and taking huge responsibilities for her misconducts, even if this means that she will get punished harshly from the people in town. This further reflects that Abigail is open-minded and cunning since she won’t try to deceive an obvious truth since everyone would know already. Instead, she makes it look less crucial and weighty. “Betty’s not witched.” In addition, she seems to be a very faithful friend because she strongly denies Betty being a witch although Parris loss hopes after the doctor said that there’s something unnatural going on. This persuades the reader to feel Abigail is an innocent girl who is being appreciatively sorry for the chaos she created, but little do the reader knows that this is the trigger of the Salem Witch trial.

On the other hand, when Parris mentioned her getting discharged from John Proctor’s service since he is doubting the reputation of Abigail in the town, she replied by blaming it on Elizabeth Proctor, by saying she won’t work for a “lying, cold snivelling woman”. The readers can, therefore, recognise her atrocious relationship with her former heiress. This shows how responsive Abigail is when it comes to manipulating things. It is evident when Parris questioned her further and Abigail’s mood shifted drastically. “With ill-concealed resentment at him: Do you begrudge my bed, uncle?” The word “resentment” indicates a complex, multilayered emotion, which perhaps shows the frustration and fear of Abigail when it comes to the Proctors. The writer’s intention perhaps would be allowing the reader to foreshadow future events between Abigail Williams and John Proctor because she clearly reacted more enraged than she should. Overall, Miller has depicted a lot of contrast of the 17-year-old Abigail, whether she is a villain or a victim since Act 1.

Gradually, Abigail started to realise the influence of the higher powers in the Salem society and exploiting defamation, by demolishing the characters’ reputation through false accusation in the play: Tituba, Mary Warren and Elizabeth Proctor for instance. She accused Elizabeth Proctor with a poppet that had a needle in it. A clear example of this is the quotation “stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly”, where Abigail is trying to portray how Elizabeth utilised a form of Voodoo(Witchcraft) to stab her by stabbing the poppet. This indicates how intimidating of a person she is as “two inches” demonstrates that she is willing to sacrifice herself completely to manipulate the people. Abigail claims that whatever harm Elizabeth does to the poppet, she will suffer likewise. As a result, this has had a significant impact on the people because this is a deadly sin and shouldn’t be forgiven.

The plot in the court in Act III is focused on how manipulative and wicked Abigail became. When Proctor gives Danforth Mary Warren’s statement and that the girls were faking, the other girls are brought in for questioning, and Abigail strongly denies Mary’s accusations. This can be seen when Abigail cred out, “Crying to heaven: Oh heavenly Father, take away this shadow!” The repeated use of “shadow” implies darkness, which is linked to the devil. Therefore, the people there have to believe whatever she is saying because of their strong beliefs. The play instantly turnover when Mary runs out “hysterically” and Abigail took control of the whole situation, fooling the judge as the girls feign symptoms of witchcraft. This results in Proctor losing conscious and utter “How do you call Heaven! Whore! Whore!”. Miller creates the idea that John Proctor is losing control and couldn’t keep calm like he usually is in the play. The word “whore” clearly emphasize how he is disgusted by Abigail, and how everyone is closing their eyes and not discovering the appalling lie. Further on, this forced John Proctor to admit that he had an affair with Abigail so she will be discredited from her falsehood. However, Elizabeth Proctor covers up the affair to protect her husband’s reputation because she doesn’t realize that he has already confessed. Unfortunately, John’s charges against Abigail are dismissed.

In conclusion, Abigail is a villain as she would do anything to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor in order to have John all to herself. The fact that she is willing to drink blood, practice diabolism and put a curse on Elizabeth reveals her selfish and evil personality. Abigail Williams is the primary instigator of the hysteria she is essentially willing to harm others to achieve her lust, eventually deceived everyone in Salem which led to hundreds of innocent deaths. Nevertheless, readers can argue that Abigail is also the victim of one-sided love as John Proctor gave her hope and her childhood trauma(parents death), as well as the Salem society, shaped her to become the merciless villain and the most interesting character in The Crucible.

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“The Crucible”: Abigail - Villain or Victim. (2021, Jan 29). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/the-crucible-abigail-villain-or-victim-essay

“The Crucible”: Abigail - Villain or Victim

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