In "The Crucible," what is going on between Abigail Williams and John Proctor?

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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One main conflict which exists in Arthur Miller's play, "The Crucible," is the relationship between John Proctor and Abigail Williams. In the opening of the play, an affair between the two is alluded to.

PROCTOR: Abby, you’ll put it out of mind. I’ll not be comin’ for you more. You know me better. (I,i)

This leads readers to believe that John and Abigail had an affair previously; it also leads readers to believe that John has decided against continuing the affair. Later in the play, John openly admits to adultery (which is used against him in both court and, ironically, when he is naming the 10 Commandments for Hale).

After the opening of the play, readers come to understand that although John is finished with Abigail, Abigail is not finished with John. This obsession with John, and Abigail's desire to be with John, foreshadows the accusations made against Elizabeth later in the play. Readers know that Abigail will do anything to have John. This is fleshed out when Elizabeth, herself, makes the connection between the accusation against her and Abigail's hatred of her.

Essentially, by the time the play opens, nothing is going on between John and Abigail. Everything between them has ended prior to Betty's peculiar behavior and the girls' dancing in the woods.


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