How can I compare how Lady Macbeth and Abigail Williams are portrayed with historical background?

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Lady Macbeth and Abigail Williams both shattered the stereotypical conventions of a woman’s behavior in their respective times in order to achieve selfish, evil goals.

Though they lived in different time periods, the social expectations for both women would have been remarkably similar: to be subservient to the men in their households and in the town, to take good care of a home, to be modest, quiet, chaste, loving, meek, and selfless. In Abigail Williams’ society, male religious leaders held the most power; for Lady Macbeth, it was male military leaders.

Both women were ambitious manipulators. Lady Macbeth mixed taunting with sexual allure to convince Macbeth to kill Duncan, though she appeared to welcome the king and his retinue graciously, honored to be their hostess.  Abigail Williams seduced John Proctor, but then convinced an entire town she was holy and God-fearing, having only the general good of the community at heart.

Both women also see the chain of events they started spiral out of their control and escape the situation. Lady Macbeth commits suicide in the depths of remorse; Abigail never repents, but she does run away.

Lady Macbeth and Abigail Williams appear on the surface to be the kind of women their societies would have approved, but underneath they were the complete opposite.

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