Abigail Williams has negative behavioral traits that include lying, deceit, spitefulness, jealousy and manipulation. Her actions whip the town of Salem into a hysterical frenzy, leading to a witch hunt that ultimately results in the deaths of 19 innocent people.Continue Reading
"The Crucible," a play by Arthur Miller, is set in Salem, Massachusetts, and is centered on a deeply religious community at an age when witchcraft was believed to be responsible for adverse and unusual events. The story begins when Reverend Samuel Parris, the town's minister, discovers his niece, Abigail Williams, dancing naked in the wood with her friends. Realizing that they would be severely punished, the girls lied and blamed members of the community for possessing them with spirits in a bid to convert them to witchcraft. The play continues with hysterical accusations and blame, led by Abigail Williams, against upstanding citizens of the community, resulting in a trial against those accused of witchcraft.
One of the accused is Elizabeth Proctor, wife to John Proctor. She is a devout Christian, being righteous and moral in all her actions. Abigail Williams, who used to be their servant, had previously had an affair with John Proctor, being fired by Elizabeth when the affair was discovered. Abigail's false accusation against Elizabeth was out of jealousy, spite and revenge. As John did not want to tarnish his good name, he did not admit to the affair until the events of the trial had gone too far.
The court condemns 19 people to their death on the charge of witchcraft, including John Proctor, who tears up his previously signed confession in order to atone for his earlier sins. Elizabeth Proctor is spared from a hanging because she is pregnant.Learn more about Classics