Death and Destruction In The Crucible
Throughout everyone’s lives, people will make mistakes, but they will use them as a tool in their future to correct and move beyond their past, yet in some cases people chose to continue down a path, and resume to their unchanged habits. In the play, The Crucible by Arthur Miller, a young girl by the name of Abigail Williams proceeds down a road that causes death and destruction. The reason for her motive is unknown, yet it is clear that her selfish, deceitful and manipulative ways are major factors.
Abby is truly a self absorbed and self-centered person. In order to be with the man she loves, she attacks all innocent people that stand in her way. When a little girl speaks out, and states what she believed happened while they were in the woods, she slaps the girl and as the rest of the girls, crowd around the bed it is obvious Abby is not afraid to induce the same abuse on them. She says “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you” (Miller 20). Her intention of speaking this to the girls is to implement fear and terror on them. Abby is so caught up in her own story that she will do anything to keep herself safe. Interestingly enough, her main focus is to be with a married man. A man by the name of John Proctor, whom she previously had an affair with. Although he apologized to his wife profusely, and ended the rendezvous with Abby, she relentlessly persisted on him and tauntingly mentioned to him “Give me a word, John. A soft word. John I am waitin’ for you every night” (Miller 23). Even though John does not want to be in a relationship with Abby anymore, she is persistent and selfish, so she ignores his request and tries again for his love. If going for him again isn’t enough, she then targets his sweet wife. In hopes of once again being with John, she puts Elizabeth down, exclaiming “She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold, sniveling woman and you bend to her!” (Miller 24). Abby is determined to be with John and will do anything, she will even make lies about his wife “who makes lies”, she only cares about herself, so being dishonest towards others is not difficult for her, in fact it is easy because she is so accustomed to getting what she wants. As egotistical as Abby is, she does not get her way and she will soon learn of her consequences.
Another one of her dominant character traits is her manipulation, and she exhibits this trait in most conversations with John. Abby has tried to tempt John, she threw his wife under the bus, and now she attempts to manipulate him so he will express his love for her. By doing so she claims “I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me that you’ve never looked up at my window?” (Miller 24). By saying this, John must admit that he is conflicted. He is still in love with her, or at least that he has the same feelings as before, even though he is trying to fix his marriage, and run away from Abby. She continues to manipulate him through telling him of her affection and passion for him, although it sounds like lust, she will not back down. Begging for him, Abby states “I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was and now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! (Miller 25). Her goal in mentioning this to John is because she believes if she insists on his participation in their relationship, then he will give it to her in return. The way that Abby crafts her words and gestures towards John has no excuse and, she knows exactly what she is doing, and she will do whatever it takes to achieve it.
Last but not least, is Abbeys deceitfulness displayed all throughout the play, particularly events involving witchcraft. When John approaches Abby and questions her place in the woods that night, she deceives him and lies to his face. Abby lies to John, “Oh posh! We were dancin’ in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us. She took fright, is all” (Miller 22). Completely lying to John, her true character shines through and Abby continues defying others without them knowing a thing. Her untruthfulness proceeds, and when in court with the whole town on watch, she is distrustful once again. She looks towards the balcony as if a creature was preparing for flight and screams “Oh, please, Mary! Don’t come down. Mary please don’t hurt me!” (Miller 121). Now turning on Mary Warren, Abby makes the court think Mary has compacted with the devil and she is a bird about to jump and attack, lying again to the townspeople and putting someone innocent in danger. No matter how small or big the lie, justice will always be served and although not now, Abby will discover that lying hurts her more than anyone.
In the end Abby accomplished nothing, her dream to be with the man she loves failed. Her goal to frame the other girls was unsuccessful, and she has learned nothing from this experience. As a result of her untruthfulness her beloved died, and her manipulative attitude did not work on him, neither did her selfishness. Abby hurt so many people in the process and those people were innocent and kind. Because of her actions she is an antagonist who is a static or unchanging character throughout the play. Abigail Williams never learned from her mistakes and never truly will understand because she is determined, and adamant about what she wants, and disregards anyone who could get in her way.
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