Essay on Crucible: Salem Witch Trials and Proctor

Submitted By CallumDFGreen
Words: 944
Pages: 4

Abigail Williams is the vehicle that drives the play. She bears most of the responsibility for the girls meeting with Tituba in the woods, and once Parris discovers them, she attempts to conceal her behavior because it will reveal her affair with Proctor if she confesses to casting a spell on Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail lies to conceal her affair, and to prevent charges of witchcraft. In order to avoid severe punishment for casting spells and adultery — not to mention attempted murder when she plots Elizabeth's death — Abigail shifts the focus away from herself by accusing others of witchcraft. This desperate act of self-preservation soon becomes Abigail's avenue of power.

Quote: And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads on the pillow next to mine and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down! (Act I)

Analysis: We get a glimpse of Abigail Williams' ruthless nature. She fully understands the ramifications of being found guilty of witchcraft, which makes her faulty accusations all the more disturbing. The whole Indians smashed my dear parents' head on the pillow next to mine would evoke some sympathy from the reader if Abigail weren't such a skank.
Quote: I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him, I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!

Analysis: Abigal Williams "confesses" to being a witch. This outburst exemplifies the hypocrisy present in Salem as well as the ridiculousness of the witch trials. Abigail follows the pattern set forth by Tituba the slave. It begins with confessing a meeting with the devil, continues with declaring a reunification with Jesus, and ends with accusing others of witchcraft. The false confessions favor the dishonest and are motivated by jealousy and spite.

Abigail is the exact opposite of Elizabeth. Abigail represents the repressed desires — sexual and material — that all of the Puritans possess. The difference is that Abigail does not suppress her desires. She finds herself attracted to Proctor while working in the Proctor home. According to the Puritanical mindset, Abigail's attraction to Proctor constitutes a sin, but one that she could repent of and refuse to acknowledge. Abigail does the opposite. She pursues Proctor and eventually seduces him.

Abigail's willingness to discard Puritan social restrictions sets her apart from the other characters, and also leads to her downfall. Abigail is independent, believing that nothing is impossible or beyond her grasp. These admirable qualities often lead to creativity and a thirst for life; however, Abigail lacks a conscience to keep herself in check. As a result, she sees no folly in her affair with Proctor. In fact, Abigail resents Elizabeth because she prevents Abigail from being with Proctor.

Abigail gives new meaning to the phrase "all is fair in love and war." She has brooded over her sexual encounter with Proctor for seven months. The more she thinks about the affair, the more Abigail convinces herself that Proctor loves her but cannot express his love because of Elizabeth. Abigail continues to review and edit her memories until they accurately portray her as the center of Proctor's existence. Rather than seeing herself as an awkward seventeen year-old who took advantage of a man's loneliness and…