Abigail Williams can be seen in two ways. She can be seen as an aggressor or as a victim. An example of her as an aggressor is in act one where she threatens the girls, “Let either of you breathe a word… and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.” An example of her as a victim is also in act one when she describes how she feels that she was used as a slave by Goody Proctor, “She hates me, uncle, she must, for I would not be her slave.” The play begins with Reverend Parris’ Betty lying on a bed apparently unconscious. Reverend Parris believes that she has been carrying out witchcraft. Abigail Williams enters the room. Abigail Williams admits to dancing around a fire in the woods but she says that it was not witchcraft. I believe that this is the start of her lies. Later on in the play, she admits to witchcraft.
This is the first piece of proof that we have, that she is a liar and therefore an aggressor. Abigail Williams does not want to be associated with the unknown because many of the village’s inhabitants were afraid of the unknown and anyone that had links with acts of witchcraft would have been people to stay away from. An example of this is when Abigail blames Tituba, who is an outsider from the West Indies, with the quote, “We danced and Tituba conjured.” Tituba is easy to blame because most people will agree that Tituba is a likely suspect to commit witchcraft. Abigail Williams has had an affair with John Proctor before the play has started. She uses this affair to blackmail John and then accuses Goody Proctor of witchcraft after Goody Proctor threw Abigail out of the house. (Abigail was the Proctor’s housemaid.) When Abigail, Betty and the girls were dancing in the woods, they weren’t practising witchcraft, they were having fun. The environment in which they lived was very controlled and they had little freedom.
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The girls appear to be attention-seeking. This means that they are victims of a boring life but now they want their revenge and they intend to get their revenge in any way possible. This makes not just Abigail but all of the girls aggressive. During Act one John Proctor comes to visit the village. Abigail believes that he has come to see her and hopes that he wants to restart their relationship. An example of her showing that she wanted John Proctor back is when she says, “I am waitin’ for you every night.” He does not want to restart their relationship because he has seen what Abigail is really like. He has seen that she is very selfish and will do anything to get her own way. He does not like being answered back by Abigail either. Proctor is a well-respected person in the town and does not want his reputation spoiled by a person with a poor public status like Abigail.
Abigail then starts to cry and hopes that John Proctor will feel sorry for her and start a relationship again. At this time Abigail looks like the victim because John will not be with her. However, as we experience later on in the play, this is just a cover for her and during the play, she shows many facets of her personality. Abigail requires a lot of attention during the play to divert the fact that she is the ringleader. She acts as though she is sorry for what she has done. We can see this in the quote, “I want to open myself,” She says this when she wants forgiveness for the dancing. She also requires this attention as part of her life due to the fact that she has been brought up in a very solemn and sensible way. At the start of Act, one Abigail is talking to Reverend Parris normally. She then leaves and talks to John Proctor, but later in the act, she returns. Hale has turned up at Parris’ house.
Hale questions Abigail about the dancing she was doing. Abigail says that it was common dancing and continues to deny claims that it was witchcraft. Abigail is very defensive over herself and begins to accuse Tituba of practising witchcraft. This is Abigail again being the aggressor. She is trying to place the blame on another person. Abigail continues to accuse Tituba and Tituba asks Abigail why she is lying. “Why you say that Abby.” All of the people in the room believe Abigail because Tituba is a black slave and her status in the village was considerably lower than Abigail’s. Tituba then starts to name people who also worshipped the devil. The Act closes with Abigail joining in. Abigail appears to take great joy in naming people. This is yet more evidence as to why Abigail is an aggressor and not a victim. If Abigail was a victim she would be questioned thoroughly and punished severely.
Instead, she admits to dancing in the woods, she does not get punished and then she gets most of the female population in the village in trouble as well. Abigail has lots of personalities that suit the person she is talking to. For example, when she talks to Tituba she talks mockingly as though Tituba was lower than her in social status, when she talks to John Proctor, however, she looks up to him because she fancies him. She does not use mocking tones in front of John Proctor because she is trying to impress him and insulting him would not help. Another example of her different tones is when in the courthouse she leads the girls to pretend that there is a bird attacking her. She has to talk in important and loud tones so that the other girls will lead her and so that the other people in the courthouse will hear her and take notice of her.
During Act three Abigail accuses Mary of being a witch. Abigail makes Mary Warren feel very bad about herself. Abigail and the girls pretend that Mary Warren has put them under a spell, Mary protests her innocence feebly but Abigail stands her ground. Mary then realizes that she must ally with Abigail otherwise she will most probably die. The main confrontation, though, happens at the end in the courthouse. Abigail has made it common knowledge that she does not like John Proctor anymore because he would not be with her. Abigail then joins with the other girls to scream and make out that Mary Warren is attacking them using supernatural powers. As the girls run out of the courtroom, Mary Warren accuses John Proctor of forcing her to join the devil. In doing this Mary Warren allies with Abigail. Abigail wants John Proctor to be punished for not having a relationship with her. As Mary Warren says this Abigail and the girls stop at the door. This is another reason that Abigail is an aggressor and not a victim.
She is now forcing people to side with her or suffer the consequences. If Mary Warren had not said that she supported, even though she didn’t support the devil, then she would have been prosecuted and most probably hanged. I believe that Abigail leaves because she realizes that if she was found out she would be hanged. She has left the village in disrepute. She started the witch accusations when she accused Tituba. If Abigail had not been around then the dancing around the fire would probably not have started in the first place. If it had taken place I believe that all of the people involved would have owned up and there would be no false accusations. Abigail started accusing the women in the village when Reverend Hale questioned her and Tituba. When she started accusing the villagers all of the girls joined in as well so that it would seem that they were not opposed to Abigail and as a result, they would not be accused themselves.
However, Abigail got a taste of her own medicine when first Betty accused her of drinking blood which Abigail quickly denied and told Betty that if she didn’t keep quiet then Abigail would attack her and also when Tituba accuses Abigail of conjuring up spirits in front of Reverend Hale Abigail hastily rejects this accusation and then talks to Hale as though Tituba was not in the room so that she would not have any suspicion surrounding her. To conclude, I believe that had Abigail not lived in the village or if the way of life at the time had been more exciting then the dancing around the fire would not have started and as a consequence, nobody would have died or been accused of witchcraft. I also believe that if Reverend Hale and Reverend Parris had not been so blind in dealing with the case then Abigail would have received punishment. They did not see that all of the women just admitted that they were witches so that they escaped being hung. I believe that the play as a whole is full of misunderstandings and blindness.
Abigail took advantage of the judges’ short-sightedness and this makes her an aggressor. She was selfish and in the end, did not get what she wanted (John Proctor). The play is also based around the fact that the author Arthur Miller was attacked by McCarthyism and this story could be his way of expressing it. Arthur Miller was ruthlessly accused of being a Communist at the time that he wrote this book during the Red Scare. During the Red Scare, many important people were accused of being communists because a senator called Joseph McCarthy wanted to gain a name for himself. There are some very big similarities between the storyline in “The Crucible” and the Red Scare. The main similarity is that one person sparked off accusations that had a very little foundation that ruined many people’s lives. I believe that the moral of this play is that even if you do everything you can to get it, you will not always get what you want.