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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Abigail Williams - Character Study.

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Introduction

The Crucible by Arthur Miller Abigail Williams-Character Study Abigail Williams is the troubled niece of Reverend Parris of Salem. She is an orphan; made so by brutal natives who killed her parents before her very eyes. The witch-hunt begins when Abigail is at the age of seventeen. She has a large role in this novel, especially on these dark events and also her relationship with John Proctor. In my opinion from what I have understood from the text she is a tempestuous character. She is initially perceived as being wild bright and proud. Her character then develops a macabre quality that becomes a precocious influence over everybody in the village of Salem. She abuses this 'ability' to turn things to her advantage and others demise. She develops a frosty insensitive demeanor, which seems to be her permanence but occasionally she shows different emotions in moments of intense passion and fear. This suggests confusion, perhaps misguidance due to the absence of her parents. Projections of these emotions are generally acerbic, though she is often deceptive in her manner, feigning the necessary feeling to gain what she desires, which is most obviously in the play, John Proctor. In my opinion understanding Abigail's Motives and drives is quite difficult, it is hard to see why she is doing a certain thing when you consider the many different aspects of her character. You may see a girl who after violent trauma has emerged psychologically damaged. Others may detect an evil trait in Abigail. Hardened by the traumatic death of her parents she has become vengeful, throughout the play she seems to passionately resent doubt with Parris' questioning in Act1. Always maintaining that she is a proper and decent girl. She's expectant of unbounded tolerance and sympathy in compensation for her trouble. This is fair; as you can empathise with this. However when others fail to conform to her expectation she tends to wreak havoc, notably when she attempts to drink blood in order to win Proctor's heart. ...read more.

Middle

Self-preservation lies at the core and it directs her actions. Hale, newly arriving in Salem begins to interrogate Abigail. He is very direct and soon Abigail realises that she cannot avoid his questions any more. She knows she must escape his attention but she cannot flee. Instead she cleverly implicates Tituba. Abigail fabricates her involvement to become the leader of the proceedings, trying to force the other girls and her into consuming the charm. The brilliance in this simple move lies in Tituba's social status. She is a black slave girl therefore she bears no status whatsoever in the community. Her word is inapplicable against Abigail's and I don't think she would be aware exactly how sinful their actions were. When she is summoned and interrogated nothing of what she says is accepted until out of the sheer fear of hanging she falsely confesses to witchcraft. Tituba is not stupid and realises where salvation lies. After confession she is pressed for names. Mrs. Putnam inquires whether her past midwives had been in contact with the devil. Upon the names of Sarah Good and Goody Osburne she quickly reveals that they are in contact with the devil. By satisfying her interrogator's suspicions despite their falsehood she can divert attention away from herself. And presently Abigail realises that Tituba may counter by speaking her name. With her devious plan failing she must find another way to avoid interrogation. The only other option is to confess. It saved Tituba and it would save her. Her calculating wit and precocious influence is demonstrated as she does so and sends the professional men of respected stature into frenzied excitement. She then begins to call out more names, adding to Tituba's list. This rouses Betty whom immediately rises and joins in the chanting of names. She is described to be calling out 'hysterically' and 'with great relief'. Then their ecstatic cries attain a gleeful tone, adding an evil edge. ...read more.

Conclusion

And so in a last, brilliantly performed illusion Mary Warren is driven back to her, terrified that Danforth believes Abigail. Which he evidently does, as the presence of the devil always excites to engage him. The method that Abigail uses is to pretend Mary has sent her spirit in the form of a bird to haunt them. Then she repeats everything Mary says, frustrating her, draining her, and scaring her. Until in a climax of hysterical screaming she breaks and runs back to Abigail's arms, denouncing Proctor as the devil's man showing real fear for him. Abigail seems to have gained control over Mary's mind. She has traumatised it so intensely that Mary has become delusional, insane even. In reclaiming Mary she has finally rendered Proctor's case useless. In the process she has blackened his name to condemnation and hoodwinked the most respected men in the state. In a final analysis I believe that Abigail can only be seen as evil. I previously mentioned the view some may take that she has been hardened by the death of her parents becoming vengeful. You may argue that this therefore states she cannot be called evil as her actions are due to circumstances beyond her control. That at birth she was a different child to the present day Abigail. I feel that she has always had a sense of evil within herself. Her parent's deaths only heightened this sense and sharpened her intent, gave her the opportunity to exercise at her own will. From a powerful envy grew hate and from these emotions she brought a whole town to its knees. And she revelled in it, before it became too dangerous. She, unblinkingly, sent countless people to their deaths; she effortlessly imposed dreadful fear upon the young girls in the village, to the extent that one was reduced to insanity. She thought not once to stop, the euphoric indulgence was too great for her, because she could, she did. Ironically throughout her diabolical reign the one redeeming feature she possessed enforced her actions and accusations most powerfully, her illusive childlike innocence. ...read more.

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