In this essay, I will be examining the personalities of Abigail Williams and Mary Warren. I will be comparing their behaviours and looking at how they change throughout the play. Abigail Williams was once the servant for the Proctor household until Elizabeth Proctor fired her after she discovered that Abigail was having an affair with her husband, John Proctor. She is a very demanding and powerful character, who likes things being done her way. Mary Warren was also a servant, but had a weaker personality than her friend Abigail Williams, and is easily influenced by those around her.
During Act 1, both girls were caught dancing without any clothes by Parris. This was an illegal offence at the time of 1692, so they did have to face the consequences. However, Abigail and Mary tried to lie their way out of it. This was the point where they both started to change; Abigail kept strong about her words, while Mary just fell to pieces. Abigail was clearly the villain of the play, more so than Parris or Danforth: she told lies, manipulated her friends and the entire town, and eventually sent nineteen innocent people to their deaths. In Act 3 Abigail accuses her friend Mary Warren of witchcraft and working for the devil. She says, “A wind, a cold wind has come”, then her eyes fall on Mary. This shows that she was very cold-hearted, and would do anything to stay out of trouble.
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I believe that Arthur Miller has cleverly developed Abigail’s character. Right from the beginning of the play, the readers pick up that Abigail is a wicked character and quickly become aware of the way she deceives people and her lies. It seems to me that Abigail is a very selfish girl. She is not dealing with her guilt properly and it is causing her to lie and hurt others around her. On the other hand, there is Mary Warren, a girl who has many decisions to make throughout the play. At the beginning of the play, she is in the same situation as Abigail Williams and decides to go along with her and lie about dancing in the forest. She, later on, regrets this decision and is persuaded by John Proctor to tell the truth. Mary Warren changes throughout the play, she pretends to be a character that likes to do what she wants. At the end of the play, Mary decides she’s had enough of John Proctor telling her what to do and blames him for working for the devil.
Mary hysterically shouts, “You’re the devil’s man” while pointing at Proctor. She does this because she does not want to be accused of witchcraft. This was the point where the readers became aware that Mary wasn’t just an innocent girl. She was able to stand up for herself for the first time during the play by pointing at others. There were a couple of similarities between Abigail and Mary in the play, and one stood out the most. Although they both eventually gave different statements about the whole thing, they were both caught dancing in the forest together by Parris. This was a key factor in the play as it showed the readers that they had known each other and were friends before the trials. However, I believe there were more differences than similarities. One of them was that Abigail was mentally a stronger girl than Mary; this was a big difference, as it affected the things they said in the trials.
Whenever Mary was questioned, she always seemed to take a while to reply and it almost looked as if all the words coming out of her mouth were lies. Whereas when Abigail was questioned, she usually answered straight away. I believe the judges realized this, which was why they always believed Abigail. In conclusion, I thought that both characters had vital roles in the play. In the beginning, Abigail was a very confident person and had a lot of self-esteem. However this did seem to change towards the end of the play as she ran away from the town, this shows me that she acted very selfishly. Arthur Miller tried to portray Abigail’s character as a villain and I believe that it worked well. Mary Warren was shown to be an innocent person in the play, although towards the end she did stand up for herself. In my opinion, Miller wanted the readers to think that Mary was kind of a hopeless character that develops into a stronger character throughout the play.