The role that grudges and personal rivalries play in The Crucible are a major part of the theatrical production. It is one of the main themes of the play, along with: revenge, witchcraft, deception, and religion. Of all the motives and justifications of the characters, grudge and personal rivalry is probably the most prevalent.
For example, Abigail Williams, a lowly servant, used her own personal grudge against Elizabeth Proctor (her former employer) as an motive for accusing her of witchcraft. Long before the setting of the play, their rivalry had been long standing, mainly because John Proctor was having an affair with Abigail. Because of this, Elizabeth removed Abigail from servitude. When the hysteria of the Witch Trials gets into full swing, Abigail uses an accusation as a means of retaliation as well as settlement of the rivalry with Goody Proctor.
"Spoke or silent, a promise is surely made. And she may dote on it now--I am sure she does-- and thinks to kill me, then to take my place." (Miller, pg. 943) Elizabeth knows that her life is in danger, and she is trying to convince her husband, John Proctor, to tell the court that Abigail is just a fraud. "She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave!" (Miller, pg. 973) John Proctor feels guilty about the adultery he committed, and is accusing Abigail of trying to kill off Elizabeth so that she can take Proctor for herself.
The grudge between the Proctors and Abigail is not the only one themed in The Crucible. For example, Giles Corey has a grudge with Thomas Putnam because Putnam had accused Jacobs of witchcraft so that he could buy his land. Giles accuses Putnam of this by saying, "Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land!" (Miller, pg 958) He knows that Putnam is the only one in Salem who can afford Jacobs's land if it were to be auctioned off.
These are just two of the many examples of the role that grudges and personal rivalries play in The Crucible. During the Salem Witch...