What is the conflict between Abigail Williams and John Proctor in The Crucible? 

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e-martin's profile pic

e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Abigail Williams and John Proctor have one main conflict.

 It is revealed early in the play that he has had an adulterous affair with Abigail, who worked as his servant.

This conflict leads to a complex set of events and ultimately to John Proctor's death. 

Early in the play Abigail expresses her wish to renew the affair with Proctor. He refuses yet Abigail will not relent. After the claims of witchcraft begin to be thrown around Salem and many stand accused, Abigail siezes the opportunity to condemn Proctor's wife Elizabeth in an attempt to get her out of the way. 

Defending his wife from this claims, Proctor confronts the court where he publically denounces Abigail and admits to his infidelity. 

His determination to expose Abigail's false accusations eventually leads him to admit his own adultery to the court.

Proctor is condemned to death and fails to clear his wife of the charges against her. Abigail's need for Proctor's affections are outweighed in the end by her unwillingness to admit to her mistakes and her lies. 

favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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The main conflict between John Proctor and Abigail Williams, by the time the play begins, has to do with Abigail's obvious animosity toward Elizabeth Proctor, John's wife.  In Act One, the pair does discuss their past relationship as well as Abigail's continued devotion to John, in addition to his admission that he may still have residual feelings for her as well.  However, John doesn't get mad until Abigail begins to criticize his wife, saying, "Oh, I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be—" before John cuts her off.  Only at this point does he become "angered."  However, Abigail continues, "She is blackening my name in the village!  She is telling lies about me!  She is a cold, sniveling woman, and you bend to her!"  John threatens to whip her now. 

John's continued feelings for Abigail create conflict between himself and Elizabeth in Act Two, when he hesitates to tell the magistrates what Abigail said to him about Betty's illness having nothing to do with witchcraft.  The conflict between John and Abigail resurfaces when Abigail tries to frame Elizabeth for witchcraft (using her knowledge of the poppet Mary Warren made in court, as well as the needle stuck into the poppet's stomach). 

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