How does Arthur Miller show the audience that Abigail is not to be trusted

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                G.C.S.E English Coursework – The Crucible

Discuss how does Arthur Miller establishes the character and motivation of Abigail Williams in Act 1, and how he shows the audience that she is not to be trusted.

Arthur Miller wrote ‘The Crucible’ in the 1950’s during the Cold War. The play is a study in the mass hysteria which led to the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials. It shows the consequences of being accused as a witch. The reason for a witch hunt is because it is a sign of the devil and in Salem no one is more superior than God. The people of the town live for God, respect God and die even for God.

Abigail Williams is the main character in ‘The Crucible’. She is 17 but despite her age she is very deceitful, fraudulent and malicious. She only cares about herself and will do anything to get what she wants even if it means lying when in the house and court of God.

The way that Arthur Miller shows us that Abigail is not to be trusted throughout the play is by the use of language, the stage directions and the way she contradicts herself. In the first few introductory lines Arthur Miller describes Abigail as ‘A strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling’ this instantly makes the reader form a negative opinion of Abigail and makes them suspicious of her character.

In the first scene Tituba ‘Negro slave’ enters the room where Abigail and Reverend Parris are standing around the bed in which Betty lays. Reverend Parris is the most respected man in the village due to the fact that he is the minister (highest priest). Betty is his daughter who is seemingly bewitched and will not wake, Abigail; his niece. Abigail and other girls were seen by Reverend Parris dancing in the virgin forest which ‘Salem folk believe was the Devil’s last preserve’. All the villagers are scared because not only did these girls go into the forest but they danced too, and in those days this was seen as a sin, a sign of the Devil. The fact that the girls were dancing in the forest away from the town, shows the Salem folk they were afraid of being caught, therefore encouraging suspicion.

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When Reverend Parris confronts Abigail that he saw her and Betty “dancing like heathen in the forest”, she admits that it is true, but she denies everything else, “Let you tell them I confessed it – and I’ll be whipped if I must be … We did dance … And there’s the whole of it … We never conjured spirits.” This is a tactic which becomes familiar throughout the play and she insists the dancing was mere “sport” but tells Parris nothing more. Parris is afraid of what other people will think because he is their minister.

Reverend Parris then ...

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