Abigail Williams-Villain or Victim

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This was an essay I did for my english teacher when we read "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller.

Submitted: October 05, 2012

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Submitted: October 05, 2012



Abigail Williams, a character in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, is a complex character that is portrayed as the main villain of the play. Immature, violent, and mentally unstable, Abby is a villain yet at the same time a victim. What Miller fails to show in The Crucible is that the other girls crying “witch” are just as guilty as Abby, yet she is the only one to have all of the blame pushed onto her. John Proctor, another character in the play, is portrayed as a victim but is every bit as guilty as Abby.

The complexity of Abby’s personality is difficult to explain, you could describe her as immature because despite society expecting her to think and act like an adult, she is still a child. On numerous occasions in the play Abby is seen to have a violent side. Most likely from her parents being bludgeoned to death by Indians and seeing it happen. Then going to live with her abusive uncle who could care less about Abby or his daughter Betty. Its things like this which led to her mentally unstable mind. And events in The Crucible only added stress to her already deteriorating mental health.

John Proctor is many things, but innocent is not one of them. His first crime was sleeping with Abigail Williams, then continuing to give her false hope by giving her mixed signals. For example-I may think of you softly from time to time, but I will cut off my hand before I reach for you again” (Miller 1270). Instead of being the adult in the situation, he gave a response that would continue to feed Abby’s obsession with him instead of it ending there.

More evidence that John is the main cause is when in Act 1, Abby asks him-“Do you tell me you’ve never looked up at my window?” instead of setting her straight that he loves his wife, not her, he replies-“I may have looked up”. Thus, strengthening Abby’s desire and hope to have John as hers. This conversation created a dominoes effect for the rest of the play. What Abby did was selfish, but weren’t other characters acting of their own selfish desires as well? I think people have forgotten that not only is she a child, but she’s human too. Which means that she feels things like the fear of punishment, and the fear of rejection from the town, a deep fear of death that is sure to come if she and the other girl’s admit their wrong doings. But they are not entirely at fault. With adults forcing names of men and women down their throats and a chance to push the blame off of themselves and escape punishment, they took it. But answer honestly, if this was you in their situation, wouldn’t you have done the same? We are after all human; we all make mistakes and lie to get out of trouble. This was just a deadly version of a kid with their hand caught in the cookie jar. The people of Salem, Massachusetts only have themselves to blame for the result of their actions.

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