In The Crucible in Act II, describe the power Abigail has in the courtroom.

Expert Answers info

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)

calendarEducator since 2016

write6,842 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Early in the act, Elizabeth Proctor is explaining to her husband, John, the power that Abigail now seems to have in the town and court. Of their servant girl, Mary Warren, she says, 

The town's gone wild, I think. [Mary] speak[s] of Abigail, and I thought she were a saint, to hear her. Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel And folks are brought before them, and if they scream and howl and fall to the floor—the person's clapped in the jail for bewitchin' them.

Abigail has become so powerful now that people seem to have forgotten her once-tarnished reputation and treat her as though she were holy or divine in nature. Furthermore, her authority in the court has grown so much that all she must do to get a person convicted is yell and wail and pretend to be bewitched. Whatever accusations she makes seem to be believed, without question.

When Mary Warren comes home, she tells her employers, the Proctors, that "there be thirty-nine" women arrested for witchcraft now. The number has grown terrifyingly high, from just fourteen the day before. The sheer number of accusations being made by Abigail and the other girls indicates their increase in power.  

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

brettd eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2009

write4,576 answers

starTop subjects are History, Social Sciences, and Literature

Abigail is the consummate actor, a professional liar, as it were, and by Act II she is frightening the villagers and the Court alike by fainting while it is in session, and falling to the ground with stomach pains.  Abigail had witnessed Mary putting the needle in a doll she was making during the court proceedings, and as though it were a voodoo doll wielded by a jealous wife, she accuses Elizabeth Proctor of sending out her spirit to stab her.  The Court buys this lie hook, line and sinker after the court clerk discovers the doll in the Proctor home with a needle inside it, and Elizabeth soon finds herself arrested for witchcraft.

At this point we see Abigail start to become aware of her influence in the Court and the village, and she is a little drunk from this power.  She will use it to her own ends (to kill Elizabeth Proctor by getting her sentenced to death) so that she can, in her own mind, be with John, but she also seems to just genuinely like the fact that as a young woman, she has the ultimate power of life and death over others.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial