In The Crucible Act II, what does the biblical allusion to Moses and the parting of the Red Sea suggest about how the crowd views Abigail?

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favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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In addition to the possibility that the crowd parts for Abigail because they are anxious to avoid being seen by her, it is also reasonable to suggest that the crowd parts for Abigail as the Red Sea did for Moses because they are somewhat in awe of her. She has acquired a great deal of power as a result of her supposed ability to identify witches, and she is seen not just as powerful but also holy, in a way, now. As Deputy Governor Danforth tells John Proctor in Act Three, "the entire contention of the state in these trials is that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children." If the magistrates are saying that the girls are essentially the mouthpieces of God, then it makes sense that people would stop and stare at the one girl believed to be the closest to God, the leader of the group and the most vocal of the accusers.

lusie0520's profile pic

lusie0520 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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The biblical allusion given in the play is: “Abigail brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel.” The explanation of the allusion is that Moses was the leader of the Jews and God commanded him to part the Red Sea for the Jews so they could run to Canaan and escape from the Egyptians.

In the play, Abigail has gained a great deal of power. As the person leading the group of girls in each “crying out,” she has gone from a Puritan serving girl, given little or no respect, to one of the most feared people in the community. If Abigail does not like someone, that person can expect that he or she will eventually end up in jail, then court, then dead. Therefore, the best course of action is not to be anywhere near her. This explains the use of this particular allusion. One can easily imagine a group of Puritans, going about their daily business. Seeing Abigail coming, people on both sides of the group would move away so as not to draw her attention, “parting like the sea for Israel.”

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