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Conflict In The Crucible Essay


The Crucible by Arthur Miller is driven by certain characters dominating or manipulating others. Throughout the entire play Abigail Williams is the epitome of manipulative, scheming and vengeful behavior. She uses everyone around her by intimidating them into saying incriminating things in court, and abusing background knowledge for her own agenda. This impression of Abigail is delivered through the use of dialogue and stage directions, reflecting the power and influence one person can have over another. Miller leaves the audience with a negative impression of the affect that these with power can have over others as he conveys the suffering that can result from such situations.

Abigail lies to conceal her affair, and to prevent charges of witchcraft. Lowering her eyes to Parris, Abigail innocently pleads we never conjured spirits. Abigail shifts the focus away from herself, finding an avenue of power and takes full advantage of it. Ruthlessly accusing others of witchcraft she changes her story as a desperate act of self-preservation, I danced with the devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss his hand. I saw Sarah Good with the devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the devil! Abigail develops a chant of names, becoming enraptured, as though in a pearly light demonstrating her lust for power and attention. As early as Scene one, we learn of the motives behind Abigails actions as she tries to get the girls to agree on a story to protect herself. She uses the threat of violence and their belief that she might know some real witchcraft, to keep them in line, 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 a pointy reckoning that will shudder you... i can make you wish you had never seen the sun come down! Abigail's main skill seems to be finding people's flaws, their weaknesses, their prejudices and mercilessly manipulating them to her advantage; all the girls seem to be under her control. As ringleader, she excites the other girls into a frenzy of emotion, which allows them to later condemn the people they know and love. This positions the audience to take a strong instant dislike towards Abigail, and leaves no room for sympathy; she is doing horrible things for horrible reasons.

In the crucible, Williams is overcome by vengeful motives. She wont accept that John Proctor doesnt truly love her, and is fiercely jealous of Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail sets out to feed her obsession with Proctor. The achievement of her plot requires cold calculation, and so Abigail carefully selects the individuals that she accuses in order to increase her credibility. Waiting to accuse Elizabeth, Abigail reveals her obsession and determination with Proctor regardless of the fact that she is condemning innocent people. To Abigail they merely serve as instruments for her plan. This is unknown to all but Proctor who desperately tells the court, She thinks to dance with me on my wifes grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whores vengeance, and you must see it. The audience can see the destruction Abigail was naively caused, losing her last shred of humanity by damning John, whom she claims to love. We are therefore urged to feel empathy for those ostracized by Abigail.

Abigail, despite her less appealing traits, is a very intelligent person. She plans ahead and has the majority of the Salem Village believing that people are bewitching her. She faints on cue during trials to tighten her power. [Now standing full front as though hypnotized, and mimicking the exact tone of Mary Warrens cry]. Abigail watches Mary make a doll for Elizabeth and then stick a spare needle into it for safekeeping. She then concocts proof of witchcraft by saying Elizabeth stuck it into the doll, which was a model of Abigail. She screams of pain when having dinner with the judges of the court, then shyly frames Elizabeth of witchcraft, And demandin of her how she come to be so stabbed, she testify it were your wifes familiar spirit pushed it in. Her shy testify is an example of her cunning and scheming nature, which she plays to her advantage. Abigails lack of remorse angers the audience.

Miller uses the crucible to draw our attention to the manner in which people can manipulate others for their own benefit. This is done through dialogue and stage directions. He proves these flaws, which Abigail embodies, result in broken relationships and torn communities. Abigails character is portrayed in a negative light, one that has no room for sympathy. It is clear Miller finds little humanity in her. As a result, the audience also shares these feelings. The nature of the play urges us to sympathize with those ostracized, and prompts us to want to eliminate these negative characteristics which Abigail beholds.

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