1 Answer | Add Yours
From the beginning of the play, Arthur Miller puts Abigail Williams on the outside of the community, Puritanism and her family. Abigail violates the rules that govern her behavior as a young Puritan woman, first by having an adulterous affair with John Proctor, and then by engaging in conjuring of spirits and dancing in the woods, behavior that is strictly forbidden. Abigail acts as a catalyst for the start of the witchcraft hysteria.
She does not seem to care how her behavior will affect her family, her uncle who has taken her into his home after her parents were killed by Indians. Abigail does not concern herself with the welfare of her cousin Betty, who now lies in her bed, too firghtened to open her eyes and face her father. Abigail is a troublemaker and brings much grief to Reverend Parris.
She uses the events to try to shape her own fate, namely getting rid of Elizabeth Proctor so that she can be John's wife. When this does not work for her, when she loses her ability to control the situation to her satisfaction, she leaves Salem, sneaking away in the night leaving her uncle with the responsibility of explaining to the court why she has gone.
Abigail is definitely an outsider, in the town, she is not given the benefit of the doubt when she is fired from the Proctor home. She has a long conversation with her uncle in Act I, when he feels pressured to explain her behavior in the woods the night before and because his daughter Betty lies sick in bed unable to wake up.
In Act I, when Abigail and her uncle are discussing the previous nights events, the dancing in the woods and what he saw Tituba doing while standing over the fire, Parris realizes that whatever they were doing is going to reflect badly on his as the Pastor of the church. He tells Abigail:
"Abigail I have fought three long years to bend thesestill stiff-necked people to me, and now, just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character. I have given you a home, child, I have put clothes upon your back-now give me upright answers. Your name in the town it is entirely white, is it not?" (Miller)
He questions her further about having been dismissed by Goody Proctor, and wonders why she is unable to get another job.
"And yet it has troubled me that you are now seven month of out of their house, and in all this time no other family has ever called for your service?" (Miller)
No one wants to hire Abigail in the town because everyone knows that she had an adulterous affair with John Proctor while she worked as a house servant in his home.
We’ve answered 317,758 questions. We can answer yours, too.Ask a question