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What is the relationship between Abigail and John Proctor in The Crucible by Arthur...

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cwolve18 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 18, 2013 at 4:09 AM via iOS

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What is the relationship between Abigail and John Proctor in The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 18, 2013 at 5:00 AM (Answer #1)

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The short answer to your question is that Abigail Williams and John Proctor are ex-lovers. We discover in the first act of The Crucible by Arthur Miller that the two of them had an affair. Abigail was the Proctor's servant girl, and it was, at least according to her, a very intense affair. 

We learn that the affair ended seven months ago; however, Abigail makes it clear that she wants Proctor back. Proctor, on the other hand, is determined not to resume their relationship (which is just a bit different than saying he does not still want to be with her). Proctor says it this way:

Abby, I may think of you softly from time to time. But I will cut off my hand before I’ll ever reach for you again. Wipe it out of mind. We never touched, Abby.

John Proctor wins this battle of wills and he does not resume his relationship with Abigail Williams. Nevertheless, this relationship is the crux of all that goes wrong in Salem during this witchcraft frenzy. It seems to me that you have not read very far in the play yet, so I won't spoil anything for you; however, I would encourage you to keep this relationship in mind as you read. Abigail is a liar (Miller says she has "and endless capacity for dissembling") and she is desperate to get her lover back. It is a deadly combination.

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Lori Steinbach

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