Abigail Williams in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Abigail Williams in The Crucible by Arthur Miller

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It seems unbelievable that Abigail Williams could have caused so much
horror in Salem. How does Millar present the situation as believable
to an audience?

The horror in Millar's novel 'The Crucible' is based on the
accusations of witchcraft in Salem in 1692. A woman called Betty
Parris is caught dancing naked in the woods and goes into a coma like
state. This affects the reader by making them think that Abigail is so
scared about getting caught, she goes into a coma. The reader may feel
sorry for Betty and even shocked by the effect on her.

The story is set in the times of Puritans. Puritans are very
religious, very superstitious people. They basically go to church
every Sunday, do not sin and lead perfect lives. I feel that because
the story is set in times when these people were like a 'cult', at one
mention of witchcraft, the superstition got the better of them and
they were willing to kill whoever was necessary to drive the devil out
of their village. This adds to the horror that Millar was trying to
achieve when writing the story.

The book was set in 1692, and America had just been discovered. As a
new colony had just arrived to America, times were hard and everyone
expected everyone to work to earn their keep and keep their village
running. As people were just discovering this new land, I feel that
the village would have been very religious because people had moved
away from their families and friends, and the only person they could
turn to for help was God. People would also be very weary of anything
out of the ordinary, and the 'satanic ritual' witnessed in the forest
would have definitely got alarm bells ringing.

The first turn of events was a group of girls dancing around a fire,
in the forest, naked. The girls get spotted by Betty's father,
Reverend Parris. After this, Betty falls into a coma, which I feel is
out of fear of being caught. The dancing is next speculated to be a
satanic ritual and a Black nurse named Tituba is blamed as she is
black and stands out (people believe that there is a connection with
voodoo involved).

Soon the neighbours hear rumours of what happened and the first
mentions of Witchcraft are bought up. I think that this scared Betty
even more and this is why she stayed in her 'trance' longer than
necessary. She would have to face the court and the sentence would be
some kind of cruel death. One character in question is Abigail
Williams, she plays on the idea of witchcraft, telling everyone how

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she was forced to sell her soul to the Devil but wants to be with God.
People believed her because it confirmed what they had already
speculated and suddenly all of the girls who were caught in the woods
also started playing on the Witchcraft persecution.

Abigail had lots of motives to keep the rumour alive and bring it to a
new perspective. One of the main motives is her affair with John
Proctor, he has a high status in the village. And to ruin John and his
wife Elizabeth (Abigail is very jealous of Elizabeth), she plays on
the witchcraft claims and brings everyone under suspicion.

Millar has made Abigail older than she was in real life, I think that
this is so that she could have the affair with Proctor, thus making a
motive for her actions.

The Proctors bring a sense of realism into the book, with John not
telling Elizabeth of the affair he had with Abigail. And the character
of their servant, Mary Warren being under Abigail's influence.

Abigail used a doll that Mary gave to Elizabeth to incriminate the
innocent Elizabeth, who ends up hanging an innocent woman. And to the
dismay of Abigail, John is also hung. This gives the audience a sense
of pity for the Proctors, and they only die because a jealous Abigail
cannot get John to love her again.

I personally feel that it was not entirely the fault of Abigail, I
feel that the horror was originally brought as Betty goes into the
coma, but as Abigail plays on it, the horror grows deeper and darker.
And adding to the horror is the endless persecutions of innocent
people, just because they are not liked within the community. So it is
equally the fault of everyone in Salemat the time of 1692, as all of
the town played on the witchcraft until it got out of hand and people
needlessly died.
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