In Act One, why does Abigail "admit" that Tituba and Ruth were conjuring spirits?  How does she treat the other girls and her uncle?

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favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When her uncle, the Reverend Parris, questions Abigail, she is somewhat quicker than he is, and she can put him off by telling lies about the girls' activities in the woods.  However, once Mr. Hale arrives, he begins to ask very pointed questions that Abigail cannot wriggle out of: he demands answers, and he won't let her off the hook or be distracted.  He asks her about the dancing, about what was in the kettle on the fire; he wants to know if there were anything living put into the pot and what it was.  Finally, Hale grabs Abigail and asks her, directly, "Did you call the Devil last night?"  She panics.  She needs someone to take the blame, someone whose word is worth less than her own, someone to take the heat off her who no one will have trouble believing to be a witch.  Who better than the slave, Tituba?  She is dark-skinned, a slave, a woman: essentially and utterly powerless in Salem.

Abigail treats her uncle and the other girls with contempt.  She lies easily to her uncle, and she threatens the other girls with violence if they do not keep her secrets.

renelane's profile pic

renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Abigail finally must "admit" that something had happened in the woods because things had gone to far for her to stick to her professing innocence.

At the beginning of Act one, Abigail claimed innocence in her uncle's questions in the wake of Betty's unresponsive state. Parris confronts her with his suspicions, yet Abigail maintains it was all innocent dancing.

As the act progresses, the Putnam's come over and announce Ruth has fallen strangely ill, as well. Parris pushes her further, and Abigail's story is not holding up well.

Abigail still tries to maintain control, and this is seen with her attempted bullying of Mercy and Mary Warren, and even inert Betty Parris.

After Goody Putnam tells Parris that she sent Ruth to try to get Tituba to talk to her dead children, Abigail knows it is over.

She then goes into defense mode, and confesses that Tituba was to blame, she was powerless to resist.


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