How does Abigail Williams of The Crucible show negative aspects of human nature?

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

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It is painfully evident that Miller's construction of Abigail is done so to bring out the negative elements of human nature.  Abigail is demonstrative of the evil that humans may do.  Her construction of lies underneath the veneer of innocence is a part of this.  It is not merely that Abigail lies, for all people do this.  Yet, the truly negative element to her being is that she lies with a convincing that makes her lies seem so very true.  She also does this in advancing her own political agenda while making her concerns appear to drive the public concern or the general welfare.  Abigail does not lie in a small way, but rather uses her lies to coincide with Salem's fear of witches.  This not only ensures that her lies will not be detected, but also makes her seem heroic.  Abigail does not seem to be concerned with whom she ensnares in the process, so long as her primary and personal agenda is achieved.  It is in this element that her human nature is revealed to be extremely negative.  Miller uses Abigail to show how power and the desire for it results in the most personal of motivations.  Not only does Miller do this in showing Abigail coveting John and disliking Elizabeth, but also in how Abigail's own life might have set the stage for this negativity.  As a child, Abigail witnesses the killing of her own parents.  The void this creates in her life and the lack of emotional guidance and support she receives from her uncle is something that feeds her negativity, something that Miller does not miss in exploring.  Through this depiction, Abigail's negative aspects demonstrate some level of root in psychological experience, suggesting that there is a personal level of exploration needed in understanding the negative aspects within human nature.


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