Early in The Crucible, Arthur Miller's classic American drama about the Salem witch trials, Miller subtly introduces a small note of conflict between Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor (Goody Proctor).
The conflict between the two woman will eventually become a full symphony of destruction, but for now, Miller gives the audience what will become a recurring motif: Abigail is wholly displeased with her lot in life. She's indignant that people don't treat her as she believes she should be treated, and she's not at all reluctant to express her dissatisfaction.
PARRIS: Abigail, is there any other cause than you have told me, for Goody Proctor dischargin‘ you? It has troubled me that you are now seven months out of their house, and in all this time no other family has called for your service.
ABIGAIL: They want slaves, not such as I. Let them send to Barbados for that, I will not black my face for any of them!
Another motif appears a short time later in a scene with Abigail, Mary, Mercy, and Betty.
BETTY: (Betty suddenly springs off bed, rushes across room to window where Abigail catches her.) You drank blood, Abby, you drank blood!
ABIGAIL: (Dragging Betty back to bed and forcing her into it.) Betty, you never say that again! You will never ...
BETTY: You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor‘s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!
John Proctor enters and interrupts the scene. Betty reverts to a false catatonic state in her bed, John sends Mary back to work with his wife, and Mercy quietly slips out of the room.
It becomes clear that John and Abigail had a relationship at one time. Abigail is still in love with John, and she's jealous of his wife.
ABIGAIL: John—I am waitin‘ for you every night.
PROCTOR: Abby, you‘ll put it out of mind. I‘ll not be comin‘ for you more. You know me better.
ABIGAIL: I know how you clutched my back behind your house and sweated like a stallion whenever I come near! I saw your face when she put me out and you loved me then and you do now! ...
PROCTOR: ... 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—(Takes her arms.) we never touched, Abby.
ABIGAIL: (With a bitter anger.) Oh, I marvel how such a (Beating her fists against his chest.) strong man may let such a sickly wife be ...
PROCTOR: (Coldly. Grabbing her wrists.) You‘ll speak nothin‘ of Elizabeth!
ABIGAIL: She is blackening my name in the village! She is telling lies about me! She is a cold sniveling woman and you bend to her!
Abigail's jealousy towards Goody Proctor becomes all-consuming. When the townspeople of Salem become preoccupied with fantastical tales of witches and witchcraft, and Abigail becomes the center of attention in a trial to root out witchcraft in the community, Abigail has an opportunity to strike out at Goody Proctor.
Ezekiel Cheever, a tailor and clerk of the local court, is presenting warrants to townspeople to come to court to answer for their part in the suspected witchcraft, and he appears at the Proctor's home.
CHEEVER: Good evening. Good evening to you, John Proctor.
PROCTOR: Why… Mister Cheever. Good evening. I hope you come not on business of the court?
CHEEVER: I do, Proctor, aye. I am clerk of the court now, y‘know. (Takes a warrant from pocket.) I have a warrant for your wife.
PROCTOR: What say you? A warrant for my wife? Who charged her?
CHEEVER: Why, Abigail Williams charge her.
Goody Proctor is convicted of witchcraft and condemned to death. In order to save his wife's life, and to show Abigail's motivation for charging Goody Proctor with witchcraft, John confesses his adultery with Abigail. He falsely confesses to witchcraft. He then tears up his confession but is still convicted of witchcraft along with Goody Proctor.
Abigail flees to England, leaving devastation and destruction behind her. The focus of her jealousy, Goody Proctor, is spared from being hanged because she's pregnant. The object of her love, John Proctor, is hanged for witchcraft.