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Critical Analysis of the Personality of Abigail Williams

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‘The Crucible’ is a 1953 play by an American play writer, Arthur Miller. It is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch hunt trials that took place in Massachusetts in 1692. One of the main characters of the play, Abigail Williams is one the main character in the play who is the antagonist and involved in most of the conflicts because she represents the theme off jealousy. She is a victim of what is happening in her life but that doesn’t give her justification for her disgusting action. The other adversary of the play is the town itself, because of the judgemental and self-centred people, and it is tyrannical views. Puritan religious fanaticism was plain as a pikestaff. They blamed every unknown mystery on the devil and witches who were associated with the devil. Many people were victims to the puritan religious fanatics and lost their precious lives. Abigail Williams is a victim of circumstance and her actions are not justifiable.

Arthur Miller gives a clear detail about Abigail’s childhood experiences which informs the reader where her hard-heartedness might come from since she had seen the death of her parents as a young child. “I saw Indians smash my dear parents head on the pillow next to mine” (Act 1, Page 27). A trauma this big later turn into a person being harmful towards others. Abigail’s cold-blooded, manipulative strategies show how low her character and reputation are in the society of Salem. She is an orphan and single teenager who lives in a patriarchal puritan society. The only person below her in the social hierarchy is the black slave, Tituba. In addition, her problem is that Elizabeth Proctor, wife of Abigail’s former lover, John Proctor, goes around the town dropping hints about Abigail’s characteristics, which results in lowering her social status. Based on the evidence provided, Abigail shows how much she craves to gain the power to make her status in society better. She is an example of hysteria and has an antipathy against Elizabeth Proctor. She is depicted as homewrecker due to John Proctor’s disloyalty to his wife. This is shown when proctor smiles widening; “Ah you wicked yet aren’t you… You will be clapped in the stocks before you’re twenty” (Act 1 page 28). Through imagery, the author shows that proctor is amused and charmed by Abigail’s mischievous tricks. At the same time, it shows that he does not like what is happening in their taboo relationship. She is a victim but sending nineteen innocent souls to their grave is not permissible.

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Abigail is a vengeful, egotistical, manipulative, and magnificent lair. She has the superpower of spreading death and devastation wherever she goes. She has a strange sense of how to manipulate others and gain control of them. All of this adds up to make her a great nemesis. She manipulates her only friends and their entire town. She also sent nineteen innocent people to their death. Her revenge was driven by jealousy sexual desire for john and lust for power. In Act 1, her skills of manipulation are displayed towards Tituba. When she is about to get in trouble for witchcraft, she quickly directs the whole thing on Tituba although she had convened to cast spells in the ritual to eliminate proctor’s wife, Elizabeth. When Betty says to Abigail, “…you drank blood a charm to kill johns proctor wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody proctor!” (Act 1 page 26). The author use reputation which positions the audience to think why Abigail would try to kill a mother who has young children by drinking blood. Also, it shows what lengths she will go to for how she thinks it benefits her even by killing a good person like Goody proctor. Abigail response to the situation was shocking. She threats them by stating “Mark this let either of you breathe a word or edge of word… I will come to you in the black of some terrible and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you…I can do it. I can make you wish you wish you never see the sun go down again!' (Act 1 page 26 and 27). Hyperbole, repetition, metaphor, and imagery are used to create a strong tone which reveals how confident she is and capable of killing who lets a word out. One thing is crystal clear that she is bossy and controlling according to her statement. Moreover, it implies that type of magic she uses which is powerful at night. Ironically, that Abigail who encouraged the sorcery in the first place is the one who goes around condemning everybody else. As the leader, she excites the other girls into a turmoil of emotion, which allows them to condemn as witches to the people they appreciate and adore. She riles up the entire village’s animosity of witches. Abigail key skill seems to be finding peoples flaws, their weakness, and their prejudices. Then cruelly manipulates them to advantage. She does not show any bit of regret the entire time, making appear almost brutally vicious. Her acting skills are beyond this world, but she uses to jeopardize innocent people. Abigail is the least complicated. She is the villain of the play, contrasted to Parris and Danforth. For example, she tries to kill Mary before she changes sides due to Abigail pressure and the other girls who are a puppet to her. She to be cold and pretends to see a shadow; assertion that Mary is a “black art to change her form” (Act 3, page 101). Danforth beliefs her acting. All she is doing is describing her Blackmagic but blaming her. It is similar when she blamed Elizabeth for using the doll to kill her. The doll symbolises voodoo which is practised in the Caribbean and it is an integral part of witchcraft. It can also be a symbol of childhood innocence. In act three her love for john because he tries to expose her. She does not give up and skilfully manages the entire thing on him and latter lose his life. This demonstrates that she values her life more than her love. Her actions are understandable but not justifiable.

In conclusion, she is a victim because of her upbringing since she grows up without parents love. Been treated like trash and works hard to survive in a male-dominated society. This does not give the right to oppress others as she has been oppressed. She could have been the hero, but she chose the opposite due to her negative trait. Her behaviour is not new it shows what human being is capable of.

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Critical Analysis of the Personality of Abigail Williams. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 11, 2023, from
“Critical Analysis of the Personality of Abigail Williams.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
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Critical Analysis of the Personality of Abigail Williams [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2023 Dec 11]. Available from:
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