Miller’s Presentation Of Abigail Williams In The Crucible

2134 words - 9 pages

Look at Miller’s presentation of Abigail Williams in The Crucible. How
realistic is his presentation of her as a controller?

In Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’, Abigail Williams is presented as a
controller of many of the key characters. Abigail can successfully
manipulate and control many of the characters because she is described
as being; ‘…a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless
capacity for dissembling’. Her beauty allows her to influence others
as they are intimidated by, and in awe of, her beauty. Having beauty
gains power as people are basically shallow and want to be seen with
the good-looking person, as they may then be associated with beauty.
‘An endless capacity for dissembling’ simply means that she has a
natural talent for wrapping people around her little finger. The fact
that Abigail is an orphan suggests that she uses the pity of others to
influence them. People sympathise with her because her parents were
killed and allow her to get away with a lot of things, as they think
that she has had enough bad experience and don’t want to reprimand
her. The fact that she witnessed her parents’ murder by Red Indians
also gives her kudos as it is as though she has been into the darkness
and all the things that the girls are afraid off as survived. It also
gives her an air of mystery because she is believed to be more capable
of these things now she has seen them done. By Abigail saying ‘I will
come to you in the dead of night…and bring a pointy reckoning that
will shudder you’, this threat is more serious coming from her than
any of the other girls as, from her past experiences, they almost
believe that Abigail would do it.

By writing ‘The Crucible’, Miller was making a comment on the social
autocracy of 1950’s America and the concept of ‘McCarthyism’.
‘McCarthyism’ was a movement led by Senator John McCarthy and was very
similar to the Salem witch hunts in 1692. McCarthy encouraged the
citizens of America to ‘tell tales’ on their neighbours or anyone they
suspected of having communist or anti-government connections. The
point of Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’ was to make an anti-government
statement (the actions of the characters in ‘The Crucible’ closely
mirror those of many Americans at that time) without actually
mentioning the government and running the risk of arrest. This was
especially risky for him as an author because many of the people being
arrested on charges of anti-government activities were authors and
journalists.

It is in no doubt that Abigail is the leader of the group of girls
that lead the trials. She holds immediate authority over the whole
group. We know this because of phrases she uses such as, ‘Now look
you, all of you’. The tone of this expression is one of confidence and
power. The girl’s reaction to this is to simply pay attention. Another
reason Abigail holds such sway over the other girls is her affair with
John Proctor. The girls have yet to have...

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