Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor, the leading female characters in ‘The Crucible.’ Both show determination to get what they want. Elizabeth’s character portrays a wife in distress after discovering her husband’s affair, yet she still has courage throughout the play. She shows determination when she needs strength to keep her going after Abigail accused her of witchcraft. Elizabeth is often cold and not open towards people, yet she changes as the novel progresses. Abigail, a cunning, malicious, immoral, deceitful, conniving and vengeful girl that is out for revenge who has many flaws, feels she has superiority over many of the other characters even though she is only a young girl.
Abigail’s chief characteristic is that she is a liar; we discover this right at the beginning of the play, in this stage direction: An endless capacity for dissembling. Abigail steals 31 from Hale and accuses her friends and the townspeople of witchcraft; her motivations for turning against her friends are mainly because of Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail had an affair with Elizabeth’s husband, which made Elizabeth fire Abigail. Abigail is in love with John, and while talking to him, she says, “I wake and walk about the house as though I’d find you comin’ through some door” (Act I). This illustrates her love towards John and that she will never forget their affair, and how Elizabeth broke them up. Abigail shows much dislike for Elizabeth in the play and says to John, “She is blackening my name in the village!” (Act 1).
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Once the town hears rumours of this affair, they shun Abigail. This disengagement makes Abigail seek vengeance towards them, accusing many people of witchcraft. Abigail is a strong and determined character; she manipulates people to get herself out of her own trouble. After being accused of witchcraft, she starts to blame her friends around her; she also tries to get her uncle, Reverend Parris, to help her out of the situation; she tells Parris that “The rumour of witchcraft is all about; I think you’d best go down and deny it yourself,” (Act I). Abigail tries to show the other characters that she is not to blame for her mistakes throughout the play. An example of her trying to blame other people is when she tells her uncle that he should go and deny the witchcraft accusations. Not denying the allegations herself and having someone else do it shows that she has support from other townspeople.
Elizabeth Proctor is a strong woman who is blamed for witchcraft because of Abigail’s accusations. Abigail claims that Elizabeth is a liar and is bitter, but when the reader meets Elizabeth for the first time, they realize it is just Abigail exaggerating. Elizabeth knows that Abigail wants her dead ” She knew all week it would come to this!” (Act II); Elizabeth knew that Abigail was accusing her of witchcraft. The scene when Elizabeth has arrested shows that her character is courageous. She stays calm and gives directions to the family to live by while she is gone. She tells Mary Warren to “Speak nothing of witchcraft” to the children because “it will frighten them” (Act II). Talking about normal things may keep Elizabeth from realizing the fear that she is going to encounter. Elizabeth shows she has redeeming features throughout the trial by keeping courage and strength; she exhibits this when she refuses to confess to witchcraft and when she lies to try and save her husband in Act III.
The love that Elizabeth shows her husband in the last act illustrates how caring and compassionate she can be. However, she wants her husband to live. Elizabeth knows that John has to decide for himself; this also exhibits why she is thought of as a strong character in the play. Both Elizabeth and Abigail are strong characters in the play; they are significant women and immensely affect the piece’s outcome. Elizabeth lets her husband decided to live or die, which shows great courage and strength. Abigail shows determination to get what she wants. She can manipulate the townspeople, and she can accuse them of witchcraft, which enables her to get revenge on the people who have done her wrong. Both Elizabeth and Abigail can be portrayed as strong female characters in ‘The Crucible’ by the actions that occur in the play.