Abigail in Arthur Miller's The Crucible
"The Crucible" is a play based upon the events that occurred in Salem
circa 1690s. The witch trials were not just in America, but occurred
in Europe too. Arthur Miller wrote this play, and also wrote the
screenplay for the movie based on his play script. This has been
produced in theatres countless times, as it is so dramatic, and
appeals to audiences.
We are introduced to the character of Abigail Williams in the very
first scene. This shows that she is a pivotal character in the play.
She's introduced as the niece of the Reverend of Salem:
"Seventeen, enters - a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an
endless capacity for dissembling."
Therefore, on the very first page, the readers of the play form an
opinion of Abigail that audiences would not have. The readers of the
play also know that Abigail is an orphan. We also find out that
Abigail has witnessed the bloody murder of her parents, by Native
Americans. We first realise this when Abigail mentions this when she
speaks to "the girls" in Act One.
"I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads, on the pillow next to
I believe that Miller mentions Abigail's past on an attempt to get the
audience/readers to sympathise with Abigail. It is as if he informs
the viewers/readers of her traumatic life in order for us to forgive
her, or at least feel sorry for her, so we may excuse the heinous
crimes she later commits in the play.
The fact that Abigail sees such brutality and violence at such a
tender age sets up her basic psychological problems, which may be at
least part of the cause of her problems in Salem.
A reader's initial understanding of Abigail's character is that she
has a particular thirst for attention, as shown by the crying out.
This forms initial dislike for Abigail (from the readers), yet a
different emotion for theatregoers. A reader initially sees the
relationship between Abigail and John as an affair formed from lust.
Both readers and theatregoers see that Abigail has a need for being in
charge of a situation, as seen with Abigail's relationship with "the
girls." Also, Abigail seems to enjoy her relationship with Proctor,
but clearly, he is manipulating her, as in Miller's commentary about
Proctor, it states:
"He was the kind of man - powerful of body, even - tempered, and not
If Proctor was not easily led, he, therefore must be the one who has
the upper hand in the relationship. This shows that Abigail needs
stability, and wants someone to take care of her. This is probably an
accurate statement, as she last her parents early in life, and
therefore looks for an older man. This may also be the reason for
having a relationship with someone double her age.
Theatregoers would have a different opinion of Abigail. Firstly, they
would not see Abigail as attention seeking. In Act One, when...