For the play, The Crucible, what is the evidence for the idea that Abigail Williams 1) attempted to imprison an innocent woman, 2) did so to protect herself and 3) forced others to help her in her deceit?
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1. In accusing Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft (and going so far as to plant false evidence against Elizabeth) Abigail is not angling to imprison Elizabeth Proctor. She is seeking to see her dead.
The sentence for witchcraft is death, as discussed in the opening moments of the play. Abigail's role in the accusation against Elizabeth is related in Act II, when Mary Warren, Reverend Hale, and Cheever are all at the Proctor home and Elizabeth is arrested.
Abigail feigned an attack that she claimed was made by Elizabeth through the use of a voodoo poppet.
2. Abigail's situation at the opening of the play is dire. She has already lost her position in the Proctor home. Her uncle, Reverend Parris, clearly demonstrates the idea that if his position is harmed by his affiliation with Abigail, he will cut ties with her. Having no parents in Salem, Abigail is close to being homeless.
Beyond this, she is also close to being explicitly accused (accurately) of drinking blood, speaking in tongues, and dancing naked in the woods at night. The punishment for these acts is, again, death. To protect herself and deflect attention, she begins to accuse others of sending out their spirit to afflict her and others.
3. Abigail's motivation is clear and her leadership regarding the fraud of the trials is made entirely explicit in the opening act of the play. She threatens the girls and forces them to go along with her story.
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