Abigail: the Crucible

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Abigail Williams:
Evil or Damned?

Jacqueline Wong

English 12
W. McGee
28 April 2013
Abigail Williams:
Evil or Damned?

Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, is a controversial piece of literature for many reasons, particularly the portrayal of female characters – specifically Abigail Williams. In the play, Abigail is portrayed as a villainous character that appears to be driven by a deeply rooted grudge towards the Proctor family, as her love for John Proctor is unattainable. As the play progresses, Abigail’s character, as well as the girls of Salem, holds power over the town. The Crucible’s portrayal of Abigail is a typical stereotype of a femme fatale in order to proclaim virtues that Miller believed to be universal.

Prior to the events that lead Abigail Williams head the witch-hunt, Miller does not provide much about her personality or her story besides her young age. Historically, Abigail is only eleven years old, which Miller alters in The Crucible to allow for the femme fatale traits to help in the motivation for the hunt. Her ambitious personality due to the grudge towards Proctor influences the way in which she manipulates the power that is given to her. Without this historically inaccurate change in her age, Miller would not have been able to create a strong plot to drive the witch-hunt. Not only is her age of importance, but also the fact that she is female is a large reason behind the success of the story of The Crucible. In a society where women have no authority whatsoever, Abigail drastically changes the situation, taking advantage of power given to her, and allowing the rest of the girls to thrive in it as well. This advantageousness on Abigail and the girls’ part should not be regarded as greed or selfishness but intelligent. When the men are unable to do something they are left to rely on the works of the women, forming an unappreciated dependence on them – whether it is to have food on the table or to find witches. Men are left...
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