The Crucible - A Harsh Reality


Authur Miller's play, The Crucible, is about the persecution of persons falsely accused of being witches in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. Many people die in the village after a series of lies and unjust practices. Abigail Williams, after having had an affair with a married man, begins this cycle of lies and accusations in an attempt to get her lover back. Her character includes both superiority and resentment throughout the play.

Miller shows Abigail's superiority as complex from the beginning. When all of the talk about witchcraft troubles her uncle, Abigail thinks she should be the authority. When she says, "Uncle, the rumor of witchcraft is all about; I think you'd best go down and deny it yourself," (9) she is showing her knowledge of social situations and giving her uncle, who is much older the she, advice. Abigail also thinks of herself as superior to the natives of Barbados. When her uncle discusses her work for the Proctors, she says that "they want slaves, not such as I. Let them send to Barbados for any of them!" (12). She is prejudiced against these people and her remarks reveal her snobbishness. Finally, Abigail's snobbish character is apparent through her statements to John Proctor about his wife Elizabeth. She says, "Oh, I marval how such a strong man [can be with] such a sickly wife" (23). Abigail obviously thinks highly of herself: she is worthy of Proctor's love, but Elizabeth is not. Abigail shows a character of superiority by her authoritative, prejudiced, and snobbish remarks.

Abigail Williams also shows a tinge of resentment in the play. When Mary Warren confesses that the witchcraft is only pretend, Abigail is angry. She accuses Mary of being a witch, too. Abigail's resentment of her friend's betrayel causes her to seek revenge. After Abigail's brief affair with John Proctor, she can not accept the fact that the relationship has ended. She says, "I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!...You loved me John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!" (24). This desperation causes her to resent both Proctor and his wife. The resentment leads to revenge when she accuses Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft. Her resentment deepens when Proctor tells the court about their affair. Abigail's resentment is apparent through her words and her actions.

Authur Miller's development of Abigail William's character in The Crucible greatly affects the plot of the play. Her snobbishness and superiority make many people believe her lies. Her resentment toward those that betray her influences many of her decisions. The authoritative, deceitful character of Abigail Williams is certainly unforgetible.