A dynamic antagonist, Abigail Williams from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a great example of how a character can be molded by personal desires and a work’s setting to become a villain. Seemingly innocent, orphaned adolescent Abigail ultimately causes hysteria in the town of Salem from her frivolity and selfishness. The reasoning and origins of Abigail’s malice demonstrate the setting’s influence on the inhabitants of Salem during the 1962 witch trials.
Abigail is introduced as Parris’ niece. At the beginning of the play, Arthur Miller provides what might be an explanation to the start of Abigail’s needy nature as she relays the story of how she became orphaned to her friends. Abigail explains that she witnessed her parents being killed by indians when she was a child. This harsh past and lack of a good authority male figure (Parris is a character that is extremely paranoid and obsessed with his reputation; definitely not fatherly or nurturing) explains her initial attraction to John Proctor; her older, married, employer before the play begins. Abigail’s affair with Proctor is the fundamental start of the witch trials. Had she never had the affair, she’d never have fallen for Proctor, therefore she wouldn’t want to kill his wife in order to have him back.
The Puritan way of thinking and strict religious system in Salem paved the way for a villain to arise. Abigail’s villainy is significant because it helps the reader become familiarized with the environment of Salem Massachusetts, the Christian religion it thrived off of, and how these combined ultimately caused the witch trials. The people who practiced this intense Christianity had no spiritual method to relinquish guilt for their sins. In turn, this led to the people of Salem having to find their own outlets for their guilt. Along with the stress of guilt, the individuals of Salem have to worry about the constant need to make themselves adequate for the community. Reputation is extremely...
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