The Crucible Essay, Research Paper
In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the main character Abigail Williams is to blame for the 1692 witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts. Abigail is a mean and vindictive person who always wants her way, no matter who she hurts. Through out the play her accusations and lies cause many people pain and suffering, but she seemed to never care for any of them except John Proctor, whom she had an affair with seven months prior to the beginning of the play.
John Proctor and his wife Elizabeth used to employ Abigail, until Elizabeth found out the affair and threw Abigail out. Although John told Abigail that the affair was over and he would never touch her again, she tried desperately to rekindle their romance. “Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again.” (Page 23) She claimed that she loved John and that he loved her. Before the play began, Abigail tried to kill Elizabeth with a curse. She thought that if Elizabeth were dead John would marry her. Further into the play, Abigail accused Elizabeth of witchcraft. She saw Marry Warren, the Proctor’s servant, making a poppet. Mary put a needle into the doll, and Abigail used that for her accusation. She stabbed herself with a needle and claimed that Elizabeth’s soul had done it. Although Abigail claimed she loved John, she may have just loved the care and attention he gave her. John cared for her like no one else had. In a way he could be described as somewhat of a father figure to her.
When Abigail was just a child, she witnessed her parents’ brutal murders. “I saw Indians smash my dear parent’s heads on the pillow next to mine…” (page 20) After her traumatic experience, she was raised by her uncle, Reverend Parris, who is somewhat of a villain. In the play it was written, “He (Parris) was a widower with no interest in children, or talent with them.” (Page 3) Parris regarded children as young adults who should be “thankful for being permitted to walk straight, eyes slightly lowered, arms at the sides, and mouths shut until bidden to speak.” (Page 4) Therefore, it is obvious to see that Abigail grew up without any love or nurturing. She also was without any real mother or father figures. Abigail grew up to be deceitful and treacherous, lacking trustworthiness.
On account of the fear for her life, Abigail began to accuse the townspeople of witchcraft. After she and the other girls were discovered in the forest dancing, she knew that they would be whipped and possibly hung. Abigail claimed that they were bewitched, and began to name names of those who were ‘with the devil’. Nothing would stop her from protecting herself. When John forced Mary Warren to tell the truth about the lies that she, Abigail, and the rest of the girls were telling, Abigail proclaimed her innocence and then began to accuse Mary of being a witch. She claimed she saw Mary’s spirit in the form of a bird. “But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary.” (Page 115) Abigail feared for her life so much that she protected it even when John was accused of witchcraft and was sentenced to be hung. Although she loved him, she would not sacrifice herself for him.
In conclusion, the cause of the witch trials was Abigail Williams. Considering the facts about her love for John, traumatic childhood, and fear for her life it is easy to see that it was Abigail’s fault that the tragedy occurred. As the horrible person that she was, Abigail fought to get her way no matter whom she hurt, and unfortunately in the end she did.