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Critical Analysis Of The Crucible By Arthur Miller

1227 words - 5 pages

Hear No Spirits, See No SpiritsHow Abigail Williams controlled the town of Salem not by divine intervention, but by slyness and manipulationWhat is hysteria? The American Heritage Dictionary claims that it is a state of uncontrollable emotion, such as panic or fear. Hysteria, though, goes much beyond that, hysteria is a chain reaction, waiting to be set off by the smallest of sparks. In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, that spark was one young girl, but that spark had a potential of great magnitudes. The widespread chaos in Salem was the direct result, not of a group of girls' ability to sense spirits, but of Abigail Williams' ability to control the town with manipulation and fear. Abigail used her power of manipulation to gain respect from the court officials, and once she had their support she was able to take advantage of her new position in the hierarchy to directly bring upon Salem a state of hysteria and confusion. Abigail, in the very beginning was among the accused, but using her guile she completely turned the tables, and in the end brought upon Salem its dire history.Abigail repeatedly used her slyness and power to manipulate to escape situations that were not in her favor. In the beginning of the play, Parris has just discovered that his niece and a handful of other girls were out in the woods dancing and chanting by moonlight. He was trying to find out what exactly went on on, and the girls eventually placed all the blame on Tituba. At this point in the play Abigail displayed her first evasion from an unfavorable position. Abigail accused Tituba of forcing her to take part in Tituba's devil worshipping, after which Tituba confessed to trafficking with the devil. Tituba claimed that she has seen another member of the community with the devil as well. Here, Abigail quickly jumped in and through a long eloquent speech accused a list of people she too had seen mingling with the devil. In a matter of minutes, she had manipulated the public to change her position from being the accused to being the victim.Abigail's wiliness, though, was not her only weapon; she used her ability to instill fear into another being to dispel possible opponents as well. Earlier in the scene, Betty begins to panic about events occurred in the woods, and Abigail quickly puts her to ease. She slaps her in the face and says to the girls, "Now look you. All of you...let either of you breath a word, or the edge of a word about the other things and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring some pointy reckoning that will shudder you (pg. 12)." Abigail was very confident in herself, and not once showed signs of worry or panic. This quote represents the fear and control Abigail instilled in the girls from the very beginning. Abigail made it very clear that she was the leader of the pack and that they were to follow her lead. This proved to be a crucial development because after Abigail first claimed to see spirits, the girls quickly...

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