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What is the explanation of the warning that Abigail pointed to Mercy and Mary in Act...

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blue-crystal | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 9, 2009 at 3:51 PM via web

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What is the explanation of the warning that Abigail pointed to Mercy and Mary in Act 1?

If you could please include the word by word meaning of this passage: "let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and i will come to you in the black of some terrible night and i will bring a pointy reckoning  that will shudder you. And you know I can do it;"

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lizbv | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted January 9, 2009 at 11:20 PM (Answer #1)

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At the thought that Mary's nerves about the situation and her fear of getting caught may drive her to tell the adults what the girls have done, Abigail threatens her to keep her silent.  The word "reckoning" means a settlement of accounts. Therefore, her threat means (verbatim) "if either of you, Mary or Mercy, tell anyone anything about what happened, I will come to you in the middle of the night and we will look at what you have done and what you owe me for telling on me and what I will do will scare you."

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 10, 2009 at 12:20 AM (Answer #2)

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Abigail's threat to Mary and Mercy in Act I is very blunt in its meaning.  If either of them tells the truth about the charade that she is engaged in, pretending to see spirits, identifying witches, she will seek them out in the dark of night and kill them, a pointy reckoning is the knife that Abigail will use to kill Mary and Mercy.

Abigail Williams is a cold, calculating individual who is on a mission to be reunited with John Proctor, her former lover.  She is determined to get rid of his wife, Elizabeth, so her threat to Mary and Mercy is serious and deadly and meant to intimidate them into following her lead and not stepping out of line. To not get any ideas to tell the truth about what really happened in the woods. Abigail doesn't care if innocent people are put to death for witchcraft: her goal is to protect herself from being punished for her actions and in the process get rid of Proctor's wife.  

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