In "The Crucible" Act 3, what evidence is presented in Act 1 which explains Abigail's control over the girls in Act 3?

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kimfuji | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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In act one it is obvious that Abigail has a lot of power because she initiated their dancing in the woods. She has power, not only over the girls, but over the Reverend too. She and the Revered suggest that no one speak of the negative rumors about her. She had recently been fired from her position at Elizabeth Proctor's. In addition, no other family had tried to hire her.  Goody Proctor suggests that Abigail is an evil girl.  Parris asks her if she did something wrong. Abigail denies any wrongdoing. This section in Act 1 suggests that Abigail is controlling the girls which is why she was let go.

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bronte8 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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In Act One Abigail we see Abigail as an evil and manipulative character.

  • “Now Look You. All of you.” Short utterances convey sense of authority over girls, and she uses imperatives such as ‘now look’ to control them. 
  • She threatens the girls saying “I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you”.  The modal verb ‘will’ is used with promises that Abigail will not hold back in taking certain actions against the girls, and makes the threat more serious. She manipulates the girls into fearing her.
  • The term ‘Pointy reckoning’ has very negative connotations, with the ‘pointy’ being a knife, and the ‘reckoning’ a stabbing. The lexical item ‘shudder’ is also very negative and links with the idea of fear.
  • Miller uses this to reveal to the audience Abigail’s desperation for the truth to be concealed- and the lengths she will go to in order to protect herself. Abigail manipulates the girls by using threats of violence, and she is clearly an evil character.

The effect of Abigils threats are clear to the audience in Act 3, as the girls all follow her lead and turn the court room into a wild hysteria as they accuse Mary Warren of bewitching them. The girls are following Abigail as they are frightened by her.

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