AP English III/Period 3
11 November 2012
Avarice and Vengeance in The Crucible
The play The Crucible takes place during the Salem Witch Trials of the 1800s. Yet Arthur Miller does not reveal the tragedy of the witch trials in the manner expected. Miller expresses the underlying causes of the accusations made as those stemming from personal greed and the feeling of revenge. Abigail Williams, Mr. and Mrs. Putnam, and Reverend Samuel Parris all have their own agendas as to why they “cry witch” on others in their village.
Miller outlines the history between Abigail Williams and John Proctor in Act One: Abigail was removed from the Proctor home by Elizabeth, Proctor’s wife, because of an affair happening between her and Proctor. Because of this, Abigail harbors a hate and jealousy towards Elizabeth. In Act Two, a warrant was sent for Elizabeth’s arrest: The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Parris’ house tonight, and without word nor warnin’ she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, [Parris] says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear. And [Parris] goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demandin’ of her how she come to be so stabbed, she […] testify it were your wife’s familiar spirit pushed it in. (Miller 79) Abigail knew that from the beginning of the witch scare that she could exact revenge on those who she felt wronged her or took something from her, which would be the case of Elizabeth. Abigail knew Mary Warren made a doll, and was planning to give it to Elizabeth; she also saw Mary Warren stick the needle back in. Abigail took advantage of the situation to provide seemingly irrefutable evidence of witchcraft on Elizabeth’s part. Through this, Proctor sees that vengeance runs these trials, and how easily people turn on one another to get what they want. Proctor also knows that Abigail’s revenge has no limits; she...