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What are some examples of Abigail Williams being a liar and being cruel in The Crucible?

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encariss | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 1, 2010 at 10:02 PM via web

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What are some examples of Abigail Williams being a liar and being cruel in The Crucible?

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 10, 2010 at 7:02 AM (Answer #1)

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Examples of Abigail Williams being cruel and lying are, unfortunately, very easy to find in this play, and there are many, many of them.  The first comes within her very first few lines--she lies to her uncle about what was happening in the forest when he discovered her and her friends dancing there.  She insists that "we did dance, uncle,...and there's the whole of it."  Well, come to find out later, she was lying through her teeth.  Not only were they dancing, but one of them was dancing around naked, AND, Abby herself was praticing witchcraft--drinking a potion to kill off Elizabeth Proctor.  So, Abby totally lies about what happened in the woods.

She also lies about her involvement in the events that night when she accuses Tituba of bewitching her.  She comes right out lies and says that all of the horrible things she's done in the past bit--laughing during prayers, walking around naked, thinking bad thoughts--are all because Tituba made her do it.  It's a flat-out lie to protect herself from being accused of witchcraft herself.  Later, she lies about the needle in her belly, claiming that Elizabeth's "spirit" put it into her when we all know that she stabbed herself to frame Elizabeth.

Examples of cruelty are just as abundant.  When Betty points out that Abby had been drinking a potion to kill Elizabeth, she "smashes her across the face" and threatens her to be quiet.  Then, she threatens all of the other girls, saying that she will bring a "pointy reckoning" on all of them if they tell anyone that.  Later, Mary Warren is so afraid of Abby's cruelty that she cries out saying that "She'll turn on me" if she dares tell the truth.  And not to state the obvious, but condemning innocent people to die and hang is something that Abby does over and over throughout the course of the play, and you can't get much more cruel than that.

I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!

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