abigail.gif

Role:

Abigail, much like John Proctor, can be viewed in multiple ways depending on the approach the reader takes.

Abigail was the main antagonist and sole instigator of the plays complications. At the beginning of the play it was she who lead the girls into the forest and coerced Tituba into accompanying them to dance. Later, when the girls were caught, she is the one who took the lead and began the accusations on other members of Salem’s society. Although she is clearly the "villain" of the play and has questionable motives, the reasons behind these actions could be justified.

Within the group of girls Abigail’s role was that of the leader, as she had the most understanding of the way the village works, thanks to the things John Proctor told her. It is due to this understanding that she began to loathe the nature and happenings of Salem and her powerless status as un unmarried, orphaned young woman. When she first accused Tituba of witchcraft, it is hardly likely that she was intending for so many innocent people, including the man she loved, to be hanged. She may have known when she accused citizens of Salem that they would be able to get out of their sentences, however she also knew the extent people would go to follow their faith. It is in this situation that Abigail truly becomes the villain - she switched from using the accusations as a means of getting out of trouble to using them as a way to get revenge on the society the hated so much.


Adjectives:

Cunning, manipulative
Jealous
Clever and knowledgeable
Over-dramatic
Self-centred
Goal orientated, not easily swayed


Quotations:

‘Now look you. All of you. We danced. And TItuba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe 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 a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.’ Pg. 26, Abigail

‘I never what pretence Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not I can not!’ Pg. 30, Abigail

‘It is a whore!… Mark her now she’ll suck a scream to stab me with.’ Pg. 97 John Proctor

‘Private vengeance is working through this testimony!’ Pg.100 Hale


Actions: What actions do they take to get what they want?

Before the beginning of the play Abigail convinces Tituba to come dancing in the forest and perform witchcraft on Elizabeth Proctor. When Abigail, Tituba and the other girls are caught she begins the mass accusations of the members of the village - starting with the lower class servants and social outcasts and working her way up to respected members of Salem's society- she originally does this to take the blame off herself, but then uses the accusations as revenge for the way she has been treated. When she accuses Elizabeth Proctor she does so to have her hanged, leaving John Proctor to be with her, and ‘dance on her grave’.


Obstacles: What is in their way? What obstacles keep them from getting what they want?

Abigail, as a young, unmarried and orphaned female, was already not very highly thought of or respected in Salem Village. Since her affair with John Proctor and her subsequent dismissal by Elizabeth from the Proctor household, rumours had emerged about her character.
When the accusations began, she had newfound power in being able to sway the court in her favour. However, when the accusations began to get more serious and credible citizens were accused, she found more obstacles in the form of other citizens attempting to undermine her attempts and prove she is lying. Some examples of this are when John Proctor tried to get Mary Warren to confess, which subsequently convinced Hale of her true nature and placed doubt in several others minds.


Conflicts: What type of conflict does that character face? How do they deal with conflict?

Conflict with Abigail was often short-lived, as she had powerful persuasive techniques over others, and unfortunately this landed many of the people she disliked in jail.
Abigail deflected any conflict aimed at her onto someone else, which shows her knowledge of the true nature of Salem (and indeed, Arthur Miller was most likely commenting on the nature of humans to do anything to get out of trouble). This is shown whenever she is accused of witchcraft or lying, as she pretends she is being attacked by the devil in turn accusing someone else of the crime. This reflected her understanding of the way Salem is run as she knows this is an effective way of dealing with her troubles as she is never formally punished for any crimes she committed.


Motivations: What do they want? What is their motivation in the play?

Jealousy, revenge, power

Before the beginning of the play, it is known that Abigail’s sole objective was to be with John Proctor because she had fallen in love with him after they had an affair, and whom she saw as the only person who she could relate to and understand her in all of Salem’s puritan society.
When her attempts to curse Elizabeth Proctor fail and the girls are caught in the forest, she gains a new motive – to save her own skin (although she still manages to work in John to the equation). She sees the opportunity in accusing members of Salem society to not only save herself by reflecting the blame to others, but she also found a way to eradicate members of society she didn’t like and have revenge on those who treated her poorly- including Elizabeth Proctor.
When none of this succeeds and John is arrested, she sees her last opportunity and motive, which is to get out of trouble. She does this by stealing her uncle’s money and running away.

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