Discuss if Elizabeth can be seen as a foil for Abigail in The Crucible.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Elizabeth can be seen as a foil to Abigail in a couple of ways.  The first would be that both women are shown to be the primary forces in Proctor's amorous life.  The domesticity of Elizabeth is set as a foil to the wild passion of Abigail.  Consider Proctor's initial interactions with each.  In Act I, Proctor's interaction with Abigail revolved around sexual tension between them, with Abigail suggesting that John was similar to a wild stallion.  In Act II, Proctor's interaction with Elizabeth opens with her singing a lullaby to the children in one room, while Proctor seasons the dinner broth on the fire.  In both initial settings, Elizabeth and Abigail represent different extremes to the feminine aspect in John's life.  In terms of characterization, I would suggest that Elizabeth can be seen as a foil to Abigail.  Whereas Abigail centers on power and the desire to control others in the community and gain political control over the difficult situations that arise in Salem, Elizabeth is more concerned with her domestic situation, in particular her marriage to John.  When Abigail leaves Salem, taking Parris' money with her, Elizabeth stays by her condemned husband, watching and even encouraging him stand by his principles even though it will bring about his death and her being a widow.  These might represent how from a point of view of characterization how Elizabeth can be seen as a foil to Abigail.


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