Abigail Williams Essay

A small town in Massachusetts (in 1692) had a horrific event over a huge witch trial where over 24 people were killed; this eventually became known as the famous “Salem Witch Trials,” the person who started the horrifying event was named Abigail Williams. As one of the main characters in the play, she is a very attractive young lady. However, her outwards personality seems to be bitter, spiteful and vengeful.

But she is far more than that; she is also cunning, convincing and manipulative. Most importantly, she is a girl who wants control in her life and is controlled by fear more than anything else, and uses both of those aspects about herself to her advantage. Abigail is shown to be very spiteful and demanding. This is shown when Abigail is having an argument with her uncle, Paris. “She hates me, uncle; she must, for I would not be her slave. It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, singling woman, and I will not work for such a woman! (1264) This shows how Abigail puts everyone down, and tries to come out as the innocent victim in all the chaos. But it goes deeper than that, Baby from a young age as been on her saw Indians smash my dear parents heads’ heads on the pillow next to mine”(peg. 1268)– even though she has been on her own, she has never had control over her life. Being a woman in the 1 sass she doses ‘t have many rights. She cannot own land, she cannot vote and she has almost no chance at a good job. Because of this she decides to go work for the Proctors.

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Even then she has no control. She is essentially a slave, doing whatever they command. And Abigail does not like not being in control, for she realizes that to not be in control is to not be able to predict the outcome, ND if she sin ;t able to predict the outcome, she is essentially in the dark. That scares her, so she tries to take control what little she can, hence saying “She hates me, uncle; she must, for I would not be her slave… Will not work for such a woman… They want slaves, not such as l. Let them send to Barbados for that.

I will not black my face for any of them! (Popgun)”She cannot work for a woman like Elizabeth, because while being a servant, it means she is not in control of her own life. It also shows how manipulative she is, but in a slick, quiet way. In the beginning of the play people can easily assume that Abigail is very bossy and has a lot of authority and manipulation with her uncle, Paris, ‘Uncle, the rumor of witchcraft is all about: think you’d best go down and deny it yourself. The parlors packed with people, sir.

I’ll sit with her. ” And also with the girls “Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tuba conjured Ruth Putnam ‘s dead sisters. And that is 1268) She is able to take control in a stressful situation, and hence control the people around her through their fear. And she understands this about herself. “Uncle, you’ve prayed since midnight. Why do you not go down-(Popgun)”. With this sentence Abigail is showing that she can manipulate the situations she needs to with a hint of easiness, but also with grace.

She knows she cannot just make demands- especially with her uncle- she must make them think that they, themselves, made the choice, not her making it for them. She does this purposely, less so that she can manipulate them, but more so that they turn to her for guidance. She is smart enough to realize that something bigger than Betty playing comatose and the girls dancing in the woods, is brewing. That scares her, because she (at that point) doses ;t know what is about to happen. So automatically, she starts to put her cards in play.

She does so because she wants to be in the power seat, and knows, that since she has no real power, she must invent it. However, she is afraid of uncertain futures, so she knows she must try and subdue the problem at hand, being that people think Betty may have been affected by the devil or witches “Paris “A wide opinion ;s running in the parish that the Devil may be among And to do that, she must talk to Betty. She knows that the only Way to get to talk to Betty alone is for Paris to be out Of the room, and do that she must use the one thing she is truly good at. Manipulation.

Abigail is afraid of what Betty will do; you see Abigail knows that her reputation will be ruined in Salem if word got out about how she danced, more importantly about she slept with John Proctor, not to mention, that if word got out that she drank the chickens blood to kill Elizabeth Proctor so she could be with John Proctor, she will be the first to get punished, if not killed, if she doses ‘t do something. Due to this realization she knows she must take control of the situation. And she does so quite well. However In the beginning it doses ; t work, for Betty is determined to play crazy, and that terrifies Abigail.

She knows that the only way to survive is to wake Betty up, and if she doses ; t the consciences will be massive. “Abigail turns at ounce and goes to Betty and now if fear in her voice “Betty?… Now stop this! Betty! Sit up 2679) Then Abigail shows her true colors. She throws away her mask of perfection that she uses for people in town and puts on her face of control with these two sentences’: “Listen, now; if they be questioning us, tell them we danced- told him as much already. ” (1267) this is also where she puts on another mask confiding the other.

It is mask of confidence and a mask of kindness in where she stops Mercy from beating Betty. “Have you tried beating her?… Abigail, holding Mercy 267) Abigail knows that kindness is a better way to control people then fear and pain. Sadly this doses ‘t work and Betty still refuses to be a part of the team, and tries to play her own game on the side, and consequently Baby gets angry. “l saw Indians smash my dear parents heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you never seen the sun go down… Now you- sit up and stop this! Peg 268)” This is where Abigail decides that kindness is no anger a good, reasonable way to get what she wants, and fear may be a smatter way to control the girls – and the community- so she takes off her mask and shows her true power over the girls along with the determination to survive. This is also where the play shows how truly scared she is. Abigail realizes that she is trapped in a circle of life and death, and her life hangs in the balance of a single story that everyone must believe. She understands that she must get people to believe her story before others tell the true story.

When the town s people turn and assume what girls did in the forest was Ithaca Abigail takes the situation in hand and uses it to her fullest advantage in telling the story about how she was posed by Tibia, and why they were in the forest that night. “Sometimes wake and find myself standing in the doorway and a stitch on my body! I always hear her laughing in my sleep. I hear her singing her Barbados songs and tempting me with (1284)”, Baby is talking about Tuba, the person- the slave that works for Paris- with the girls in the forest, who did the chanting.

This shows just how far Baby is willing to go to protect herself from harm. She is willing to throw money under the bus and have them killed so she doses ;t get killed. This is also the place in the play Were Abigail looses the last Of her humanity. When she realizes that she will get Tibia killed in order for herself to live, she turns dark and decides she will use this situation to get back at all the people who hurt her. And to truly make a scene where she will survive. As the play moves further along Tibia points out Goody Good, who she say ;s is doing the devils work. And look-and there was Goody Good. ” (Peg, 1286) With that, Abigail realizes that she can not only survive, but get what she ants’, which is to get rid of -in other words kill- the people who have been spreading rumors about her and more importantly, get Elizabeth Proctor out of the picture so she can marry John Proctor. This all begins with the words “l want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! Danced with the Devil… Saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osborn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil! (peg,1 286-1287) Abigail Williams wants to protect herself, and hence confesses, but she does so by proclaiming that the women (who don ‘t like her) along with the town midwife re working with the Devil. The reason proclaiming that Goody Osborn (the midwife) is working with the devil is because it would otherwise not seem real. She uses Goody Osborn for Mrs.. Putnam say ;s that Goody has helped her give birth three times and each time the baby has died. This show ‘ s that while Abigail is selfish and conniving she is also incredibly smart and can plan for the future better than anyone else.

She knows that in order to pull through with this act of killing Elizabeth among others she must do it slowly. Convincingly. If she jumps straight to people who are looked up to in Salem, he people of Salem will not believe her, and just shove her to the side without listening to her demands. Eight days later, Abigail makes the move that changes everything. “The girl, the Williams girl, Abigail Williams, sir. She sat to dinner in Reverend Paris ; s house tonight, and without word nor warning’ she falls to the floor. Like a struck beast, he says, and screamed a scream that a bull would weep to hear.

And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out. And demanding’ of her how she come to be so stabbed, she -to Proctor now- testify it were your fife ;s familiar sprit pushed in it. ” (peg, 1306) What actually happened was that she stuck a needle into her stomach, and claimed that Proctor’s wife, Elizabeth, does so through voodoo. Hence, she is working with the devil. We are lead to believe that Abigail does this so she can get rid of Elizabeth and marry John. This is partly true; she does so to make sure Elizabeth is convicted of being a witch.

However, she doesn’t do it to get John (though, yes, she drank the blood to kill Elizabeth, she wanted her dead by “natural” means, not physically). She understands now that he will never marry her, Baby, I never give you hope to wait for me…. Baby, you ; II put it out of mind. II not be comic’ for you no more…. Baby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ II ever reach you again. ” (peg. 1270) Abigail is smart enough to realize Proctor will never go to her. She knows that it doses ‘t matter what she say ;s about Elizabeth, he will never leave her.

She also doses ‘t do it to hurt John, she loves him too much. “In tears: I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, never knew the lying lessons was aught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? Will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! ” (Peg. 1271) Abigail doesn’t want to hurt John. If she did, she would have used the affair, turned it to rape, and convicted him too, by most likely saying he was working for the Devil.

And it would ;t matter if she lost her virginity, for she could very easily say that when it happened she was still being controlled by the Devil. And while she does do it out of vengeance, for Elizabeth has been spreading rumors about ere throughout town, that s not the biggest reason. Abigail, In essence, convicts Goody Proctor because it is the smartest move to do next. Abigail is brilliant. She understands she can ‘t convict the person who seems to be the holiest person in town, Rebecca Nurse, without convicting the people who never go to church, the Proctors. Twenty-six time in seventeenth month, sir. I must call that rare. “(peg, 1300) Too many people would have raised eyebrows. And she had to do it the way she did it, because she knew the Proctors (more importantly Elizabeth) were too well respected in town, just to put claim to hem. She had to do it in the most aggressive way possible in order for the town to believe her. However it even goes deeper than that. The reason why she din t solely do it for vengeance is because she never knew love until John. Yes, her parents most likely loved her, but they died when she was a child.

After that, she lived with a uncle who din ‘t love her, a slave who cared far more for Betty then her. “Tuba: love me Betty,” (Peg 284) and an employer who din ;t like her. “They want slaves, not such l,” peg (1 264), so when John showed her affection, she took it as love. And if she loved him, why old she known Nagy hurt him? The answer? Because it was the only way to ensure survival, and her life by then was based on survival before all. Throughout the play Abigail makes the townspeople believe that she is speaking through God. To deny her is to deny God.

People are terrified of that, in a time where the people of Salem know that a girl choosing to say their name or not could mean life or death, is to live in terror of the girl. Abigail knows this, and when they decide to try and go against her decisions she gees defensive. “l have been hurt, Mr.. Detonator; have seen my blood running’ out! Eave been near to murder every day because I done my duty pointing out the Devil’s people- and this is my reward! To be mistrusted, denied questioned like a-. “(third act) Abigail makes everyone else feel sorry for her, because at this moment that is the best way to make people believe her.

She realizes she is starting to lose control, and that scares her. Abigail s life is now consumed with this fairy tale about her doing God ‘ s work. She believes – and most likely correctly- that the day people start to assume that she may be lying, is the day her safety is gone. Abigail Williams is eke a canary bird. Canary bird s were once used in mines to see how clean the air was, if the bird died, the air was ; t clean. In that sense Abigail has always been able to predict the outcome before anyone else could, and when Hale, proclaims Mary has gone crazy and leaves the court (“Excellency, this child’s gone wild!…

I denounce these proceedings, quit this court! He slams the door to the outside behind them. ” (peg. 1338-1339)) Abigail realizes her time is almost up, unless she makes a big move. And she most likely would have, for she did every time before that instance when someone questioned ere integrity, but Abigail is clever enough to understand that she has ran out of people to convict, anyone else worth convicting is now too far up in social Status and since she is ran on an inner fear more than anything else, she decides to flee rather than wait for an unknown outcome. There is news sir, that the court – the court must reckon with. My niece, sir, my niece- I believe she has vanished. ” (Peg 1 346) Many people say that Abigail is simply manipulative and evil. That she has done all of this just to get John Proctor to be her husband and get revenge. While there is some truth to this, and her actions are unforgivable, there is an understanding in it. In a society where class rank means everything, a person who doses ; t any social rank in the town seems to have no control. And she realistically does not have any social rank.

She is an orphan (“l saw Indians smash my dear parents heads on the pillow next to mine,” (peg, 1268)), unmarried teenager, works as a servant and, worst of all, a girl. In addition to this, Elizabeth has been spreading rumors about her all over town. “l have heard it said, and I tell you as I heard it, that she (Elizabeth) comes so rarely to the church this year for she will not sit so lose to something soiled. ” (peg. 1263) For a girl whose greatest want in life is control, she was bound to lash out at sometime.

It is also worthy to note, that she did not plan for this to happen. “If they be questioning us, tell them we danced- I told them as much already…. L talked to your papa and told him everything. So there ;s nothing to-“(peg, 1267-1268). In the beginning, Abigail accepted what she did was wrong, and tried to put it to rest, “Oh, we ‘ II be whipped” (pay She would rather be punished, than start a great conflict. Unfortunately Betty would not have it and still insisted to play crazy. And once Abigail got into the game, she knew she would ‘t be able to stop.

A girl who desperately wanted to survive and was ran off fear, manipulation, a teenage grasp of humanity and was ‘ t afraid to throw people under the bus, is a girl who – in these circumstances- would eventually turn evil. In her shoes, what she did was a game of surviving not killing, and when looked at that way, it is completely justified. Karl Marx, a famous philosopher of the 1 9th century, argued that we do not have a single “human nature. ” He believed that we have Gutlessness, which is generally translated into species-essence.

That is we cannot base ourselves entirely by social relations with each other. It is more complicated than that. He believed that the species-essence is always determined in a specific social and historical formation, with some aspects being biological. He believed we have some capability to shape our own nature. That is, it’s never set in stone. Abigail Williams is a perfect example of this. A girl who had nothing and was second to bottom in a strict social latter, was able to become, essentially, the most powerful person in town where that was ; t suppose to happen.

Yes, she did so through fear and manipulation, but she herself was controlled by her own fear and determination to survive. In her eyes, she had only two options. Kill, or be killed. When she was put in that situation, she chooses Kill rather than be killed. But considering all she has been through, does that mean she was a bad person? Too want to survive? People often view a person who truly wants -and tries- to survive as evil. But does that actually mean they are evil? TOO want to survive? Abigail din ;t believe it was wrong, and if ever put In her shoes, some people would argue what she did was t wrong.