The Crucible - Character Profiles : Abigail Williams

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Abigail
Williams
Character Profile ­ Abigail Williams
Opening Impression:
Her attempt to get revenge on Goody Proctor by drinking blood and summoning the devil shows how strong
willed she is and how willing she is to fly in the face of the behavior expected at the time.
This is accentuated by her willingness to dance in the forest, the ease with which she lies and the violence
with which she threatens the other girls into silence.
As she is young and a girl, she is expected to be naïve and innocent; however, she is portrayed as
manipulative, evil and a forceful leader.
Her "endless capacity for dissembling", and the way in which she manipulates her friends and has the ability
to fool her fellow Salemites who are caught up in hysteria, mark her out in clear contrast to the Proctors and
the other innocent victims of the witch hunt.
The fact that the rest of Salem is taken in by an Abigail that the audience sees through so clearly is used as a
tool to convey Miller's message about how ludicrous the society in Salem is.
The fact that Abigail is a selfish and spiteful character is used to help mark Proctor out as a clear-sighted
character.
Abigail's role as a temptress is used to humanize Proctor for he is seen to struggle against his sin (lechery.)
The audience can therefore relate to Proctor as a hero, because he is flawed, like most humans.
However, the reason Abigail is the temptress and the villain of the play could be due to society pushing her
into assuming that role. Her dancing in the woods was merely a form of freedom from the rigid suppression
that children felt within Salem. Therefore, she may not be seen as purely evil.
Ultimately, Proctor's individuality is perceived in a positive light whilst Abigail's individuality is frowned upon.
Quotations & Analysis:
Stage Directions: "An endless capacity for dissembling"
The diction choice `dissembling' clearly portrays Abigail's manipulative and deceptive character as it reflects
her ability to disguise or conceal her emotions in order to "sport with" the individuals in Salem.
Conversely, her `endless capacity' outlines how her attitude and character remains constant throughout the
text.
"Now she is all worry and apprehension and propriety"
Abigail has the ability to manipulate and convince people into believing her `act' and this line effectively
undermines any sense that she might feel sympathy for Betty.
From an alternative perspective, Abigail could be perceived as a mischievous and clever individual, due to her
ability to deceive people within the society.
In a heavily repressive world, perhaps Abigail is doing the only thing she can to carve herself a small niche of
freedom.
"It were sport, uncle!" (p8)
Perhaps shows Abigail's innocence; as if she really did think that what the girls did in the forest was merely
some fun.
This idea may redeem Abigail the temptress/villain role.
It is a feeble retort to Parris, further emphasizing her youth.
Alternatively, her scheming and selfish nature may be outlined by the diction "sport" as it implies that
everything is something of a `game' to her.
The use of the exclamation mark highlights her desperation to convince her uncle.
Tentatively, the sibilance in `sport' foreshadows her scheming and sinister nature, which is portrayed
throughout the text.
"Do you begrudge my bed, uncle?
GCSE English Literature Exam Notes
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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Abigail
Williams
Use of the question mark reveals how Abigail is challenging her uncle, which therefore suggests she is a more
confident and powerful character than we would expect of an average 17 year old Salem girl.
Miller specifically employs the use of the comma, in order to separate the diction `uncle', which emphasizes
the sense of Abigail's authority and control over Parris.…read more

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Nabilah Chowdhury, 11Ra Character Profile: Abigail
Williams
"I want to open myself!" I want the light of God... I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with
the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!"
Outlines Abigail's devious and manipulative character because she realizes that by confessing her actions, she
can escape from the blame and will not be punished.…read more

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