Abigail Williams Quotes

In The Crucible, what are some quotes that show Abigail Williams is selfish and manipulative?

In The Crucible, we see that Abigail Williams is selfish and manipulative when she tries to guilt John Proctor into continuing their affair (“You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! John, pity me, pity me!”). Abigail’s attempts to flatter John Proctor while subtly insulting his wife demonstrate her manipulative ability and selfishness.

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Abigail is a young girl in Puritan Salem, and she lies in order to protect herself. One way to pull textual evidence showing how she is manipulative is to find examples of these lies.

When the play opens, Parris is worried about his daughter, Betty, who is in a comatose...

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Abigail is a young girl in Puritan Salem, and she lies in order to protect herself. One way to pull textual evidence showing how she is manipulative is to find examples of these lies.

When the play opens, Parris is worried about his daughter, Betty, who is in a comatose state. He questions his niece Abigail about what happened when he caught them dancing in the woods. At first, Abigail denies any witchcraft:

We did dance, Uncle, and when you leaped out of the bush so suddenly, Betty was frightened and then she fainted. And there‘s the whole of it.

Soon after the Putnams enter, claiming their daughter Ruth is witched and that Tituba can speak to the dead. With these new claims, Abigail changes her story:

PARRIS: Then you were conjuring spirits last night.
ABIGAIL: Not I, sir, not I—Tituba and Ruth.

Abigail tells lies in order to protect herself, but changes her words when it seems to benefit her. When she sees that the tale of witchcraft is taking hold of the town, she goes along with it. She starts off denying witchcraft, but when she sees it befits her to admit to it and claim others are witches, she does so. This develops from just claiming Tituba was doing spells, to naming Elizabeth Proctor as a witch to eliminate her.

Abigail realizes this when she sees how the adults react to Tituba's "confession." They go from telling Tituba they will hang her, to saying God will bless her if she gives up the names of witches in the town. Abigail realizes she can save herself by falsely confessing and throwing others under the bus:

I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand—I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Good Osburn with the devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!

In act 1, the girls get a moment alone, and we see how Abigail is the leader of the group. She manipulates the other girls through her words and actions. Betty tells us that Abigail drank blood as a charm to kill Goody Proctor, and Abigail slaps her. She threatens the girls:

Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam‘s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this—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. I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!

Abigail demonstrates her ruthlessness in act 3, when Mary tries to tell the court that the witchcraft claims are lies. Abigail turns on Mary, claiming that Mary's spirit is coming after her:

ABIGAIL: (Pointing upward.) The wings! Her wings are spreading! Mary, please, don‘t, don‘t...! She‘s going to come down! She‘s walking the beam! Look out! She‘s coming down! (All scream. Abigail dashes across the stage as though pursued, the other girls streak hysterically in and out between the men, all converging—and as their screaming subsides only Mary Warren‘s is left. All watch her, struck, even horrified by this evident fit.)

This is an effective manipulation tactic, as Mary sees no choice but to go back to Abigail and play along in order to save herself.

MARY: (Screaming at him.) No, I love God; I go your way no more, (Looking at Abigail.) I love God, I bless God.... (Sobbing, she rushes to Abigail.) Abby, Abby, I‘ll never hurt you more! (All watch, as Abigail reaches out and draws sobbing Mary to her, then looks up to Danforth.)

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1. In Act One, Betty Parris reveals Abigail's selfish personality by saying,

"You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!" (Miller, 19).

Abigail wishes to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor in order to have John all to herself. The fact that she is willing to drink blood and put a curse on Elizabeth reveals her selfish personality. Abigail is essentially willing to harm others in order to attain what she desires.

2. In Act One, Abigail reveals her manipulative personality when she is in the room alone with John Proctor. Abigail attempts to rekindle their relationship by telling John,

"I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me you’ve never looked up at my window?" (Miller, 23).

However, John Proctor refuses to be manipulated by Abigail and does not give into her temptation.

3. Towards the end of Act Three, Abigail once again demonstrates her manipulative personality by acting like she sees Mary Warren's spirit circling the room. Abigail cries out towards the ceiling,

"Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I do" (Miller, 115).

4. In Act Four, Abigail once again demonstrates her selfish personality by stealing from her uncle and fleeing in the middle of the night. Abigail senses that the community will rebel against the court and selfishly abandons Salem before she is forced to confront the angry citizens. Parris laments his difficult situation by telling Danforth,

"Excellency, I think they be aboard a ship. Danforth stands agape. My daughter tells me how she heard them speaking of ships last week, and tonight I discover my - my strongbox is broke into" (Miller, 126).

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Abigail is extremely selfish. She looks out for her own needs only. She says to her friends in act 1:

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.

This threat demonstrates that Abby will go to any length, even abuse or murder, to ensure that she alone is safe. She won't let her friends tell the truth lest she get caught for what they did.

One very simple phrase that helps demonstrate her selfishness occurs as she tries to convince John Proctor to continue having an adulterous relationship with her:

You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! John, pity me, pity me!

She is imploring him to feel sorry for her. Selfish people seek this in others. She is asking him to give up his family to be with her.

All of these quotes are from act 1, scene 2.

Abigail's manipulation comes out in her relationship with John Proctor. She demonstrates her cunning perception in these words to him:

I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me that you've never looked up at my window?

In this moment, she gets him to admit his continued affection for her even though he is trying to repair his marriage from his previous affair with Abigail.

After using both imagery ("sense for heat") and figurative language ("burning in your loneliness"), Abigail then attacks Elizabeth's character in an effort to persuade John to come back to her:

Oh, how I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be—

Abigail's compliment to John and criticism of Elizabeth are both meant to manipulate John.

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