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Twentieth Century Drama Arthur Miller's The Crucible.

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Introduction

Twentieth Century Drama Arthur Miller's The Crucible The Crucible is a play set in 1692. It follows the story of the Salem Witch Trials and focuses on the fate of some of those caught up in the persecution.. I have chosen to write about the character of Abigail, as she is the one who is most interesting to me. Act 1: Miller introduces Abigail in his notes as a character "with an endless capacity for dissembling", a sly master of deception. For almost the entirety of Act I, she denies any evil associations. In response to her uncle's accusations of performing "abominations," she asserts, "It were sport, uncle". Tituba confesses, is forgiven, and she is subjected to no further punishment. Immediately afterwards, Abigail does a complete reversal, confessing to fraternisation with the Devil, realising a confession won't harm her. She decides she "want[s] the light of God ... I danced for the Devil ... I go back to Jesus". Then Betty awakens and it is assumed that this has something to do with Abigail's break from the Devil. Abigail becomes the eye of God and whoever she accuses of witchcraft, is as good as guilty. She has the ability to make people break down. At the beginning of Act 1, she seems concerned and worried but we have reason to doubt the sincerity of it. Abigail immediately grasps control of the situation and demonstrates her power and control over herself and her uncle, as it is she who warns Susanna not to talk in the village about what has happened. She has a deep hatred for Elizabeth Proctor and was dismissed from the Proctors service where she was a maid. ...read more.

Middle

For young girls in Salem, the minister and the other male adults are God's earthly representatives, their authority derived from on high. The trials, then, in which the girls are allowed to act as though they have a direct connection to God, empower the previously impotent Abigail. Once shunned and scorned by the respectable townsfolk who had heard rumours of her affair with John Proctor, Abigail now finds that she has power, and she takes full advantage of it. A mere accusation from one of Abigail's troop is enough to incarcerate and convict even the most well respected inhabitant of Salem. Whereas others once reproached her for her adultery, she now has the opportunity to accuse them of the worst sin of all: devil-worship. The Witchcraft Trials. When the witchcraft trials begin, Abigail plays her cards very carefully. She only mentions Elizabeth in court at first, gradually upping the evidence until she launches as full-blown attack and cries out against her. Abigail knows that it was practically illegal to gain divorce and to marry a married man or woman, their partner must be dead. Abigail believes that once Elizabeth is condemned as a witch and hanged, she will be able to step in and take her place at John side. That is her goal throughout the entire play to get John and she takes great risks to take steps towards it. Elizabeth Proctor says in Act 2. "I am no Goody Good that sleeps in ditches nor Osburn, drunk and half-witted. She dare not call out such a farmer's wife but there be monstrous profit in it" The whole aim of the witchcraft trials is for Abigail to murder Elizabeth and ...read more.

Conclusion

The Salem witch trials and the hanging of innocent people are the product of a child's sick imagination, from Abigail's lust for John and vengeance against society. Granted, the entire town takes part of the blame for the Salem witch trials, but Abigail provides the momentum to "conjure" the whirlwind of human passions the way she does. By incorporating into the plot a character that possesses the quality of the Devil and masquerades as an angel, Miller does a fine job of replacing the original definition of good and evil with a grey cloud of sinister good and virtuous evil, which draws a veil of ignorance over the eyes of the town by appealing to the dark side of the mind. During a bout of hysteria such as the witch trials, authority and power fall to those who can avoid questioning while forcing others to speak. By virtue of their rank, Danforth and Hathorne have the authority to cast any questions put to them as an attack on the court. Similarly, Abigail responds to Proctor's charges of adultery with a refusal to answer questions. Although Danforth's patience with her audacious manner is restricted, the fact that a young girl can so indignantly refuse to answer a direct question from a court official indicates that she possesses an unusual level of authority for her age and gender. But one thing that must be remembered is usually, that good usually prevails over the forces of evil. It is not the same in The Crucible. In the end, Abigail has succeeded in her wrong doing, and has killed Proctor. For once, evil emerged victorious. Louise Rashman 10H - 1 - ...read more.

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