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Abigail: the Crucible

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Abigail: the Crucible

Abigail Williams: Evil or Damned? Jacqueline Wong English 12 W. McGee 28 April 2013 Abigail Williams: Evil or Damned? Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, is a questionable piece of literature for lots of reasons, especially the representation of female characters– specifically Abigail Williams. In the play, Abigail is represented as an atrocious character that seems driven by a deeply rooted animosity towards the Proctor family, as her love for John Proctor is unattainable. As the play progresses, Abigail’s character, as well as the women of Salem, holds power over the town.

The Crucible’s representation of Abigail is a typical stereotype of a femme fatale in order to proclaim virtues that Miller believed to be universal. Prior to the occasions that lead Abigail Williams head the witch-hunt, Miller does not provide much about her character or her story besides her young age. Historically, Abigail is just eleven years old, which Miller alters in The Crucible to enable the femme fatale qualities to assist in the inspiration for the hunt. Her ambitious character due to the animosity towards Proctor affects the method which she manipulates the power that is offered to her.

Without this traditionally unreliable change in her age, Miller would not have been able to develop a strong plot to drive the witch-hunt. Not just is her age of importance, but likewise the truth that she is female is a large factor behind the success of the story of The Crucible. In a society where females have no authority whatsoever, Abigail drastically changes the circumstance, taking advantage of power offered to her, and enabling the remainder of the ladies to thrive in it also. This advantageousness on Abigail and the women’ part need to not be considered as greed or selfishness however intelligent.

When the men are not able to do something they are delegated rely on the works of the women, forming an unappreciated reliance on them– whether it is to have food on the table or to find witches. Males are left in the lurch and have to believe whatever is offered to them. Joseph Valente specifies in his essay, Rehearsing the Witch Trials: Gender Oppression in The Crucible: The weapons utilized in this ideological battle are the familiar ones: an inculcation of women’s inherent ethical, psychological and physical inability and the idealization of ladies in their function as attentive wife and mother.

In an uncommonly obvious manner, the Puritan mother/witch complex was being used as an ideological carrot and stick, in order to effect a reversion to standard sex roles no less abrupt than the departure from them. (Joseph Valente) Miller also brings the audience back to the Bible’s initial sin– the story of Adam and Eve. Wendy Schissel protects this idea, mentioning that the ladies are the “inheritors of Eve’s sin,” and their bodies are their “tips” (Wendy Schissel). At this time, Salem, being an extremely spiritual location, females, with the couple of exceptions of a couple of males are the most implicated of witchcraft and any other devilish deeds.

In the story of Adam and Eve, it is Eve who is coaxed into taking the prohibited fruit and then convincing Adam to eat it as well, proving her disloyalty to God. The representation of women being the personification of wicked and having association with the devil and witchcraft appears in Miller’s portrayal of the ladies of The Crucible. Not unlike other individuals, or animals, Abigail’s manipulative and defensive nature is just provided when she feels threatened or outraged. Her gentleness and vulnerability were visible when she came across John Proctor alone on numerous events.

Abigail is a clever character, however has actually primarily shown to act only upon self-defense. Jean-Marie Bonnet specifies that Abigail makes use of language as a way of “guaranteeing her own safety” (Jean-Marie Bonnet). Her one desire being John Proctor, Abigail is victimized by the lust she reduces. A double requirement has actually been set in the relationship in between Abigail and John Proctor as Abigail is towered above however John is thought to have little to no fault in acting upon the affair. Abigail being blamed for the affair reveals that ladies are portrayed as wicked and manipulative whereas males are the victims.

Due to the fact that women were seen to be the lower of genders, it is Abigail who was accused with adultery. When a threat is near her, Abigail discovers another person to put blame on to eliminate herself from what she views as danger. In Act I, she skillfully implicates Tituba and a few of Salem’s people of being accountable for carrying out witchcraft. Abigail prospers just because she is of a little greater rank in the hierarchy, which Salem held at that time. Abigail proves to be a callous and cunning antagonist, doing whatever she should to fulfill her selfish desire for John Proctor.

In Act III, Abigail loses the last of her humanity as she damns John Proctor, the factor for the revolution, to jail and eventually death. Abigail’s selfish impulses have much to do with her young age. Valente interacts that as Proctor tries to deter Abigail, he addresses her as “kid,” which changes the nature of their relationship (Joseph Valente). The recommendation of Abigail as a kid brings the audience’s attention back to the fact that Abigail’s age has been altered from the historically appropriate age of eleven years of ages to a more fully grown age of seventeen and how it aids in the representation of Abigail being a femme fatale.

However, lots of, if not all, teenaged women act on impulses with little to no considerations of the possible ramifications, and Abigail is no exception. Arthur Miller’s representation of Abigail as being a vixen, and characterization as a stereotyped femme fatale reveals his opinion on the female gender, stimulating much debate primarily over whether the primary villain, Abigail, is genuinely wicked. Abigail’s resentment towards John and Elizabeth Proctor fuels the disposition and determination for the damage that is the Salem Witch Trial.

As a girl, Abigail has only her feelings to lead her through scenarios, leading to a simply spontaneous and selfish cause for the revolution in Salem. Abigail Williams has actually proven to be a selfish, manipulative, cunning, and callous character as she spread fallacious lies throughout Salem out of her lustful desire for John Proctor. Abigail’s actions can and are seen as wicked, but she herself is not. The debate over Abigail being wicked is shown otherwise by showing that her altered age and how Miller portrays females in basic plays a fantastic role in causing the audience to think selfish desire and immaturity in ladies is the root of evil.

Functions Cited Bonnet, Jean-Marie. “Society vs. the Individual in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible” Drama Criticism. Vol. 31. Detroit: Windstorm. From Literature Resource Center. English Researches 63. 1 1982: p32-36. Schissel, Wendy. “Re(dis)covering the Witches in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible: A Feminist Reading” Drama Criticism. Vol. 31. Detroit: Wind. From Literature Resource Center. Modern Drama 37. 3 1994: p461-473. Valente, Joseph. “Rehearsing the Witch Trials: Gender Injustice in The Crucible” Drama Criticism. Vol. 31. Detroit: Gale. From Literature Resource Center. Legal Fictions. 32 1997: p120-134.

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