What does the phrase "endless capacity for dissembling" suggest in The Crucible?

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

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The "endless capacity for dissembling" is a phrase used to describe Abigail. It is a reflection of her characterization.  Abigail's characteristics show her to be manipulative in terms of her relationships with other people.  Abigail's "endless capacity for dissembling" is one that allows her to conceal her true emotions for other motives.  She displays an ability to pretend with other people in order to achieve what she wants.  Her "endless capacity" for manipulation and, essentially, deceit is what drives the drama.  Her ability to convince her uncle to advocate the presence of witches in Salem and Abigail's ability to convince the other girls to succumb to the power of accusation are part of her plan to control and gain John Proctor for herself.  While others would think that there is a limit to such deceit, Miller's description of Abigail is one in which there is no end to her capacity to control others.  Abigail's limitless vortex of cruelty and manipulation is part of the reason why Proctor's humanity is so vital, as it constitutes a response to the "endless capacity" for evil that exists in the world.


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