Discuss if Elizabeth can be seen as a foil for Abigail in The Crucible.

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elizabeth and Abigail are foils in that they each highlight certain of the other's characteristics. They are polar opposites to each other, representing the traditional female archetypes in Puritan culture. Elizabeth is a loyal, faithful wife and mother, demure and devout in equal measure. Abigail is depicted in ways a scarlet woman, a brazen temptress who's succumbed to the pleasures of the flesh and is hell-bent on destroying the Proctors' previously happy marriage.

Yet the hypocrisy of Puritan society is ruthlessly exposed throughout the witch-hunts. For it is Elizabeth, the kind, decent, God-fearing woman who's publicly condemned as a witch, whereas the diabolical Abigail, who has herself dabbled in dark practices, is feared as the instrument of divine wrath and judgement. Establishing Elizabeth and Abigail as foils allows Miller to explore the problematic and contradictory nature of Puritanism's attitude towards the role of women in society.

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Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In a literary text, a foil usually refers...

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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