Abigail Williams Character Analysis

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Between 1692 and 1693, 20 people were killed in the Salem Witch Trials. These trials, occurring in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, were initiated by a fear of witchcraft and severe paranoia. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller depicts the difficult situation of the Salem Witch Trials and leaves the reader to question who is guilty and who is not. Abigail Williams can be seen as one of the leading instigators of the negative effects unleashed in the Salem Witch Trials. This essay will analyze Abigail’s background, motive, and her responsibility in the start and execution of the trials. Abigail, being the poor girl she is, has had quite a tragic past. She is an orphan during the time of the trials and is being sheltered by Reverend Parris. Abigail herself had said “I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine” (pg 20, Miller). Because of this event in her past, Abigail’s character changed, and not necessarily for the better. She becomes known to the audience as a very snarky, manipulative, and vicious person; one could liken her to “a wolf in sheep’s clothing.” The death of her parents is a very probable cause of this development, which is shown several times throughout the play. A great example of Abigail’s true self would be when she threatens Deputy Governor Danforth by saying, “Let you beware, Mr. Danforth. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits? Beware of it!” (pg 108, Miller). Her true self, the ‘wolf without

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