Sunday, April 15, 2012

"The Crucible" Critical Paper

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The words jealousy or lies could be Abigail Williams’ middle name. In Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Abigail Williams’ principle weakness is her jealousy for the things she cannot have in her life and her habit of lying to get what she wants. These two vices combined helped to create a chaos in Salem that the colony of Massachusetts had never seen before. Abigail’s jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor, and the lies she told, ultimately broke up a family and caused the death of the only man she ever wanted.


Abigail Williams’ insane jealousy has no boundaries. She will do whatever she feels necessary to get what she wants. Betty Parris reminds Abby, “You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!” (I, 1, 18). Abigail immediately lashes out at Betty for saying this, which only proves that Abigail really does want Elizabeth Proctor dead so that she can have John for herself.


Abigail’s habit of lying can be seen by almost every conversation she has. In every conversation, she says at least one lie. “I never sold myself! I’m a good girl! I’m a proper girl!” (I, 1, 40). This is a double lie that Abigail told Reverend Hale when he was questioning her about conjuring spirits in the woods. It is a double lie because she did conjure spirits and also, she is far from being a good and proper girl after having an affair with John. This is a perfect example of Abigail lying to save her neck.


Abigail will lie to incriminate others, as long as it serves her purpose of getting the blame off of herself. “She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer!” (I, 1, 41). Abigail lies to get the spotlight off of herself and onto Tituba when Parris and Hale are questioning them about selling their souls to the Devil. Abigail does not have enough character to tell the truth and do what is right. She is spineless and has to ruin other people’s lives for her mistakes.


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Abigail cannot even tell the man she thinks she loves the truth. She puts on a show for John in the woods when he comes to plead for her to end the charade and to ask her to drop the charges against Elizabeth. “My spirit’s changed entirely. I ought be given Godly looks when I suffer for them as I do” (II, , 140). Abigail is trying to play the part of the innocent victim who is just doing the right thing, when she is in fact the cause of all of the accusations and turmoil going on in Salem. She doesn’t suffer for the people of Salem at all. In fact, they suffer because of Abigail and the games she plays with people’s lives.


Abigail’s jealousy and lies come together to make Elizabeth look guilty of witchcraft when Abigail is in front of the court. “Goody Proctor always kept poppets” (III, 1, 6). This lie that she tells the court helps to incriminate Elizabeth and this just helps Abigail get one step closer to getting rid of Elizabeth, thus making Abigail closer to getting John for herself. This is Abigail once again using her insane jealousy and lies together to get what she wants.


As evident in the examples, Abigail Williams’ principle weakness is her jealousy for the things she cannot have in her life and her habit of lying to get what she wants. Abigail is a pathological liar who will do or say anything as a means to get what she wants. She will stop at nothing to get what she wants, even if that something belongs to someone else and even if she has to hurt someone to get what is theirs. Abigail did this to get John; she accused Elizabeth of witchcraft. In the end, however, her plan backfired and John died because of Abigail and her terrible scheming.


The Crucible by Arthur Miller


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