How does Abigail Williams influence the actions of male characters around her?

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

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This is probably one of the areas where Abigail's malevolence is most readily evident.  Naturally, she held some level of influence over Proctor, becoming the basis for their affair.  When they talk in Act I, it is evident that this influence is not as evident, although there are some embers that might be present as Abigail employs sexual imagery such as comparing John to a stallion and using imagery of perspiration to rekindle the hold that she had over him.  During the trial in Act III, Abigail's influence over John is on the level of the forces of good poised against the forces of evil, initiating a violent and intense reaction from John as she embraces Mary Warren staring at John with a smirk across her face.  Abigail influences her uncle at the very start of the drama, indicating to him that invoking the claims of witchcraft and the devil is a good path to pursue as the town's minister, something that he initially rejects only to do what she suggests.  In the trial, Danforth is influenced by Abigail, refusing to rise against her when she threatens to leave when her credibility is questioned.  Abigail is able to wrangle the wills of the people around her, but is able to use her own appeal as a woman when influencing the men around her.  While sexuality might not be the direct tool she uses, Abigail is able to demonstrate a level of femininity that enables her to be seen as above reproach, and something that men respond to in an affirmative manner than ensures what Abigail wants is what Abigail gets.


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