How is Abigail Williams a hypocrite  in The Crucible?When she says "I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus...I go back to Jesus." at the end of Act 1, could this be an example of...

How is Abigail Williams a hypocrite  in The Crucible?

When she says "I want the light of God, I want the sweet love of Jesus...I go back to Jesus." at the end of Act 1, could this be an example of hypocrisy?  She is saying she loves God and follows him, but she really fuels the witch trials and is seen as a devil-like character, by blaming witchcraft on other women and so forth.  Is this correct?

Expert Answers
Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

You are absolutely correct in your assertions.  Your analysis is dead on because Abigail is invoking the name of the God or the divine to advance her own personal agenda. Her claims of witchcraft are fradualent as well as her desire to "Want to the light of God."  We see as early as Act I that she knows all of what is being said about witches and such is false and that she only covets John Proctor.  She shows little devotion to the divine, but is savvy enough to understand that her social order is theocratic, so in playing to it, she gains public support while being able to advance her own agenda.  The only modification I would suggest in your analysis is when you argue that Abigail is "seen" as devil- like character.  The only change I would feel here would be that Abigail is not really seen as a devil- like character as much as she acts as one.  The town believes her claims of others being a witch and this is something that happens as a result of her own perception of authenticity.  I think she is a "devil- like" character who is able to utilize the social order's faith and fear in the divine to advance her own agenda, making her a hypocrite.

thetall eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Abigail Williams is a hypocrite, and her true character is exposed when she steals from her uncle and runs away. She pretends to be righteous and innocent by invoking the name of God, but her true intentions are far from what she claims.

Several innocent lives are lost because of her false testimony. She commits adultery with Mr. Proctor and later asks him to leave his wife. When Mr. Proctor rejects her proposal, she frames Mrs. Proctor for witchcraft. Mrs. Proctor is arrested despite protests from her husband. She is charged with witchcraft, an offense carrying the penalty of death. Mr. Proctor comes clean about his previous relationship with Abigail in an attempt to save his wife. Abigail commits perjury and refutes the claims by Mr. Proctor.

Strong evidence, including the quote, points to Abigail being a hypocrite because she pretends to be innocent when in front of the court and presents her conniving nature when away from the public.

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The Crucible

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