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What do you find interesting about the way Miller presents the character of Abigail in act 1 of the crucible?

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Introduction

What do you find interesting about the way Miller presents the character of Abigail in act 1 of the crucible? What I find interesting about Abigail is the power of her conviction; she is after all only seventeen. Whilst all the time knowing she is a fraud. As an audience we are aware of everything that goes on in the play. We see the lengths that Abigail is prepared to go to in order to protect herself. She is prepared to sacrifice the lives of those around her in order to ensure that her own position is not marred. We learn that Abigail is an orphan, which allows Miller to create an opening through which he can draw upon sympathies from the audience. Before Abigail even speaks Miller has created a character with a very appealing set of attributes. She is strikingly beautiful which gives her the ability to ensnare any man as John Proctor finds out. We know from the text that he has fallen victim to Abigail's deadly charm before, and is still tempted by her even now, "I'll cut off my hand before I ever reach for you again". She is young only seventeen so she has all the ways of a woman and yet maintains the vulnerability of a child. This alone is a deadly combination as she can control how your response by playing upon each of these attributes to her advantage. ...read more.

Middle

Until Abigail gets angry with Parris doubting that, "Her name is not entirely white amongst the village" she responds in a temper, "My name is good in the village!" it is obviously important therefore, for Abigail to have an untarnished name in the village. So when Mary warren threatens to tell the village that they were dancing in the forest, Abigail forces it upon Mary that it will not be taken lightly by the village. Abigail continually enforces the fact that the punishment will be collective, and not received individually. Mary obviously played a lesser part in the activities in the forest than Abigail did. Mary says to Abigail "you'll be whipped" Mary understandably could get away with a much lesser punishment. However, the dominant and persuasive Abigail denies Mary the thought of confessing when she says, "We'll be whipped." With emphasis on the "we". Miller does this, as it is a good way for him to express Abigail's ascendancy over the other characters. Mercy then "moves menacingly toward Mary" this in light of Abigail's actions makes her seem less vindictive as Mercy assumes the role of bully. However I think that it is Abigail who is the real bully toward Mary as she forces her to suffer using psychological means rather than physical means. She lies to Mary saying that she'll be punished just as harshly as all the others when all Mary did was look. ...read more.

Conclusion

The reason, I believe, that Miller is showing all these different aspects of Abigail's character is to dispel any doubt in the audiences mind that she appears as she seems. We know that Abigail has succeeded in convincing Reverend Hale (or more likely given him an excuse to accuse Tituba) that it was in fact Tituba who drank blood and forced the others to drink blood because Hale says to Tituba, "when did you compact with the devil?" not even giving her the option to argue that it wasn't her. Whilst all the time we know that it was Abigail who drank blood and forced the others to drink blood as well because Tituba says, "you beg me to conjure! She beg me to drink blood!" as an audience we don't for a second doubt Tituba's words, we believe her to be telling the truth. In the final "crescendo" of the scene where Abigail and Betty both report about seeing the devil it is difficult to see whether Abigail is genuine about wanting to free herself from sin or if she is just acting to make herself seem less guilty and more worthy of sympathy. Her and Betty's accusations free themselves from most of the speculation but not all of it. During this crescendo we see the most interesting aspect of Abigail's character. We can never really be sure if she is genuine or if she is appearing to be genuine. Therefore we may never really see Abigail as such. ...read more.

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