How does Abigail help develop Miller's theme of socially unjust witch hunts?

2 Answers | Add Yours

akannan's profile pic

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

Posted on

Abigail represents Miller's theme of power being used for unjust ends in a couple of ways.  The construction of "the other" as something to be feared and demonized is what Abigail does better than anyone else.  Abigail creates the "us" versus "them" distinction in a very stark and effective manner.  She is able to replicate this pattern of social recognition throughout the town so that there is little in way of solidarity and connection between one another.  Rather, there is mistrust and misgiving between the people in the town.   There it no pursuit of the truth or of justice, in general.  Rather, there is an exercise of power in who has it and who lacks it.  Miller's basic premise is that those in the position of power can use social demonizing elements such as witchcraft to deflect criticism from areas that merit it. Abigail wishes to deflect criticism of what the girls were doing in the woods that night, most notably her.  She wishes to deflect the criticism that she covets another woman's husband.  She wishes to deflect the conditions in her own life that have helped to make her the way she is.  Rather than bring attention to these areas, she constructs the "witch hunt" as a way of bringing out attention to divert from these elements that necessitate scrutiny.  It is here here Abigail becomes the embodiment of Miller's idea that witch hunts are socially unjust and an extension of the use and abuse of power.

marciascoles's profile pic

marciascoles | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

Abigail is essentially the one who plays on the fears of the townspeople. The people are so afraid of witches actually living in their town. She points fingers at people and also attempts to scare the other girls into keeping quiet about what happened in the woods. This gives her leverage over the other girls. She is a master manipulator. She can be evil and cunning when necessary and seemingly innocent when necessary to suit her own needs and agenda.

We’ve answered 317,742 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question