Why did Abigail lie to her uncle about dancing in the woods? 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The culture in Salem is very conservative as a result of strict religious doctrine. Abigail tells her uncle, Parris, that the girls were dancing in the woods because this will elicit far less punishment than the act of communing with the devil and/or the dead. Mary Warren warns them that witchery often leads to hanging, whereas dancing only leads to whipping. Abby threatens the girls to go along with the story that they were dancing and that it was Tituba who conjured Ruth's dead siblings (at Mrs. Putnam's, Ruth's mother, request). 

Unfortunately, no one in an authorial position seems willing to place some blame on Mrs. Putnam. More significantly, Salem is so ensconced in strict religious beliefs and fear mongering that they slide quickly into hysteria. When accusations of consorting with the dead come up, Abby is quick to blame Tituba. And Titbua claims that the girls begged her to do this. Eventually, Abby blames others. Abby uses the dancing excuse and blames others in order to avoid being accused of witchcraft herself.