How is Abigail Williams responsible for the Salem witch hysteria in The Crucible?

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dwashburn eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Contrary to popular belief, Abigail is responsible for blaming people; however, the true responsibility falls on Judge Danforth. Danforth ultimately knows the girls are liars and yet he continues to preserve his reputation. There is a point in the play where he is asked by Hathorne to drop the accusations and free the people. Danforth refuses to postpone the hearings until they investigate further. 

The preservation of his reputation seems to be more important than preserving the towns people's lives. This is a travesty, yet he maintains his stand that he can not withdraw his decision when so many people have already does for the same cause. Abigail may have got the ball rolling or so to speak, but Danforth could have stopped the hangings and trials under his own word.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While it is not fair to blame Abigail Williams for the entire travesty known as the Salem Witch Trials, she is certainly one significant component of the hysteria and death surrounding this historical event.

The Crucible

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