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Overview: The Crucible by Arthur Miller

The Puritans of Salem, Massachusetts in the late seventeenth century believed lies to be deadly sin. They were of the opinion that the smallest false-telling could turn a person from a path to Heaven to one straight into the arms of the Devil. However, during the Salem Witch Trials in the spring and summer of 1692; lies, deceit, and false accusations became common currency. The character of Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller’s 1952 play, The Crucible, illustrates this type of behavior. Abigail Williams’s lust for John Proctor and her desire for attention motivate her to falsely accuse innocent women of witchcraft, resulting in the regret and desperation she feels in regard to the choices she made, and subsequently her decision to run away from Salem to escape the pain she has caused for herself and for others.
Abigail Williams in motivated by her irresponsible and inappropriate lust for the revered and respected John Proctor, as well as her desire for attention in a town where she receives little notice. John Proctor, a major figure in Salem admired for his honesty and integrity, is married to Elizabeth Proctor; despite this, Abigail pines after him, chasing feelings that John does not share. Though the two had had an affair earlier on, John strives to stay true to his wife and forget his fondness for the teenage Abigail Williams. Abigail chooses to cling to John Proctor’s previous feelings for her and wishes to share a life with him, one where Elizabeth does not exist. When she finds time alone with him, Abigail begs John to remember his feelings of affection and desire towards her and attempts to convince him of his love for her (Miller 22-25). She expresses her aspirations to become his wife once Elizabeth has left t...

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...eep-seated motivations and the unwise actions she took as a result of these impetuses.
Because of Abigail Williams’s unequivocal craving to have the eyes of the town turned towards her, as well as her irrational feelings towards the inaccessible John Proctor, she chooses a course of action with serious implications not just for herself, but for the whole town of Salem. These choices lead her to become a changed character by the end of the play, and are the reason she abandoned her heartache and pain and escapes the place where her difficulties had begun. Breaking sacred religious laws in Salem had had consequences Abigail Williams could never imagine. Perhaps this is why Puritans considered lying a deadly sin – it truly could be deadly, and not just for the liar.

Works Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. N.p.: Viking Penguin, Penguin Groups USA, 1953. Print.
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