Miller’s writings lead us, the audiences, into believing that Abigail is a victim in ‘The Crucible.’ Miller has Abigail in the play from the beginning. Miller portrays Abigail as a skilled liar and manipulative character who is dishonest, and someone who will go to great lengths for her safety. Miller continues to convince us that Abigail is a villainous character throughout this play. She is responsible to many deaths throughout the play. If she had, she could have stopped all the hysteria that followed madness. Instead, she keeps her mouth shut, which cements her role as the ultimate antagonist. Miller cleverly suggests she may be a Puritan Society victim at times. However, it is not enough to see Abigail as a true victim. His use of dialogues, stage directions, and Abigail’s character allows him to create sympathy for her.
It is important to understand Abigail’s motives and intentions from the play’s context. They were living in a time when the ‘Salem folks believed that the virgin wood was the Devil’s last preserve, his home and his citadel. According to Puritans, the American Forest was the last area on Earth that didn’t pay homage to God. Anyone suspected of witchcraft, if found out, would be hanged. Abigail’s behavior can be attributed to the toxic environment in which she was raised. She is self-absorbed and cares only about her reputation. This may explain Abigail’s manipulative tendencies. Betty accuses Abigail initially of witchcraft. You drank charms to kill Goody PROctor.
Abigail, who is a dark and distrusting character, claims that Paris will not blush at her name ….. It’s an unhappy woman, lying cold, sniveling lady, and it’s not me!’ Abigail also claims that Elizabeth made her think she was a slave and therefore she cannot be with John. Proctor could have used her youthfulness to give her mixed feelings, leading her to curiosity and causing her to lust after him. John Proctor is her lover and she believes he loves her. My sleep is gone and I have gained knowledge. John Proctor loved me and no matter what sin it was, you still love me!’ She is deluded by her desire to see him as a lover, but she holds onto him for only the thrill of herself. Abigail could’ve deliberately said “sin” in order to emphasize the evil Proctor did when he ended their affair. This would make him seem like a villain.
Abigail believes she is the victim and confronts Proctor. Proctor denied my claims. Abigail continues to rant about Proctor’s delusional love for him. You aren’t a cold man. John, I’m your friend. You are my friend. She is crying. Miller uses stage direction to indicate that the woman is clinging to her lover in order to pressure him into feeling regretful. The phrase “I know you” is repeated multiple times, emphasizing her plea for him to reconsider his decision. It is clear that Miller took advantage of her by making it seem that he thinks the townsfolk have more importance than his feelings as a 17-year old orphan. This support the notion that she may also be a victim. However, her reference to their past relationship reinforces the idea that she is also a victim.
Abigail, an adopted child, is considered a disgraceful member of the community. She also has an affair with an older gentleman. Her uncle believes that this has caused her to hate the townsfolk, Elizabth and Proctor.
Miller portrays Abigaila as a wicked girl who manipulates others to escape the mess she’s in. She suddenly switches from telling the truth that she was ‘just dancing’ in woods to convincing people that Tituba had bewitched them all. She shifts all of the blame on Tituba while calling out names. This is similar to Mccarthyism, which she uses to leverage her power and keep her out from trouble. As she continues to hang the second person, this makes her look terrible.
It all began with her parents dying and her abuse by an older male. This has had a huge impact on her life, leading to her horrible choices. It is natural to want to save oneself and not have to admit their mistakes. This was likely to lead her to being viewed as a witch and to rise to power.
Miller’s final words are both a warning to the audience and a way of showing sympathy. As she dances around breaking some rules, Miller shows us that she was not a complicated character at the beginning. Later, as the play develops, we are able to see glimpses her other nature. This reveals that she isn’t as straightforward as she seems. She is a misguided teenager with a history of abuse and deceit that guides her to the right path.
Henderson, K. F. (1972). The Performance and Analysis Of Abigail Williams’s Role In Arthur Miller’s Play” The Crucible” (https://inspire.redlands.edu/work/ns/d902def3-3441-4f17-847e-4520a3885644)
Martin, R. A. (1977). The Crucible of Arthur Miller: Background, Sources and Sources. Recent theater has been explored with a focus on the 20(3) period, which has produced a plethora of influential pieces (279-292). (https://muse.jhu.edu/pub/50/article/502227/summary)
Chavkin, A. (2019). The Crucible is a play about the Salem witch trials. It depicts the hysteria and paranoia that was rampant in the community and the subsequent events that occurred. The Arthur Miller Journal published an article discussing the playwright’s works, which was comprised of fourteen sections and ran for about seven pages (86-93). (https://www.proquest.com/docview/2322058546?pq-origsite=gscholar&fromopenview=true)
Sarangi, I. (2013). The Unexplained Hysteria of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. The Criterion published a six-part series of articles providing an overview of the topic. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/305719814_The_Unexplained_Hysteria_in_Arthur_Miller’s_The_Crucible)
Marino, S. (2008). Arthur Miller’s play, “The Crucible,” is a work of fiction based on the true events of the Salem Witch Trials. (https://www.jstor.org/stable/42908942)