In act 4 of The Crucible, why have Abigail and Mercy fled town?

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The beginning of act 4 shows how much Salem has changed since act 1. The dark act opens at the jail, where Herrick, who was once proud of his job in the trials, now comforts himself with alcohol, checking in on prisoners Tituba and Sarah Goode. The two ladies have not been heard from since the beginning of the play. Then, they were praised for their confessions and promised they would be set free, since they repented. However, now the women realize their actions have sent other innocent people to death. Cold and depressed, they fantasize about joining the devil in warm Barbados.

Later, Cheever tells the court about the cows roaming the town. While a group of cows seems like a small note, the fact that there is no one left to take care of them, or to tend the crops, demonstrates how far the trials have gone. In an effort to save the town, most of its citizens have been condemned, and many have been sentenced to death.

There be so many cows wandering the highroads, now their masters are in the jails, and much disagreement who they will belong to now. I know Mr. Parris be arguing with farmers all yesterday—there is great contention, sir, about the cows. Contention make him weep, sir; it were always a man that weep for contention.

Even Parris is realizing that the town isn’t embracing the trials as they once were. He points out that when he excommunicated John Proctor, “there were hardly thirty people,” before these services drew larger crowds and more support.

Abigail and Mercy Lewis surely feel this shift in the town and begin to realize their time in power is almost up. If the change in Salem isn’t enough, the rumors are beginning to spread that similar trials in Andover have been turned over and that similar rebellions may occur in Salem.

Reverend Parris reports on the court that the two girls are missing, so their exact motives are not known. He reports the facts: they’ve been missing for three nights and, they’ve taken his money with them to fund their journey.

This be the third night. You see, sir, she told me she would stay a night with Mercy Lewis. And next day, when she does not return, I send to Mr. Lewis to inquire. Mercy told him she would sleep in my house for a night.

Excellency, I think they be aboard a ship. My daughter tells me how she heard them speaking of ships last week, and tonight I discover my—my strongbox is broke into.

Stealing from her uncle is her last desperate move before she leaves. Abigail realizes that she will never have the love of John Proctor, that he will die because of her accusations, and that Salem is no longer a safe place for her; therefore, her only remaining option is to run away with her friend.

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Mercy and Abigail leave Salem because they have heard rumors of the witch courts being overturned in Andover. They fear what might happen to them if they stay. Parris says that Abigail must fear to stay in Salem and that is why she left.

In Andover, the citizens of the city decided to rise up against the witch trials taking place there. Parris tells Danforth that the citizens have overthrown the court and refuse to have any more witchcraft. They aren't taking the situation lying down. When Hathome says that the citizens of Salem seem happy with the situation at the hangings, Parris says that the people hanged up til now were people who weren't well regarded. But Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor are respected in town and people may decide to rise up against the courts.

Abigail and Mercy know that if the witch trials come crashing down, they could be punished for their lies. Since it happened in Andover, it's easy to see that it could happen in Salem too. Abigail wanted John but John chose Elizabeth, his wife, and there's no reason for Abigail to stay in Salem and take the punishment the town sees fit.

Abigail steals money from Parris; she and Mercy flee town. They get away by lying to their guardians and saying they're spending the night at each other's houses.

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At the beginning of act 4, Reverend Parris laments to Deputy Governor Danforth about Abigail and Mercy Lewis's disappearance. Reverend Parris explains to Danforth that Abigail stole thirty-one pounds from him and fled the community of Salem. When Danforth suggests that they send a search party out to capture Abigail and Mercy, Parris mentions that he had overheard the two girls talking about boarding a ship. Parris then reveals that Abigail had "close knowledge" of the town and received news about the rebellion in Andover.

Essentially, Abigail Williams and Mercy Lewis decide to flee Salem because they anticipate the community overthrowing the corrupt court and fear for their safety. Abigail and Mercy Lewis are responsible for perpetuating the witchcraft hysteria and falsely accusing innocent citizens, who are arrested or hanged in front of the community. Abigail and Mercy fear that they will be severely punished or executed if the citizens of Salem overthrow the court, which is why they secretly flee Salem.

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In Act IV of The Crucible, Abigail and Mercy flee because Abigail can no longer have what she wants, John Proctor. The ony reason that Abigail got involved with the witch trials was to find a way to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor.  Her goal was to free John Proctor of his current wife, so that she could become his wife.

Once Abigail sees that John Proctor is to die for being in league with the Devil, Abigail realizes that there is nothing left for her in Salem.  She also senses that the tide will soon turn against the girls who have, through her leadership, given false testimony in the court, which results in the deaths of innocent people accused and found guilty of witchcraft.

"Parris informs the investigators that Abigail has taken money from his safe and left town. He fears rebellion among his congregation, only a few of whom came to the church to hear John Proctor's excommunication."

Both Abigail and Mercy are afraid of the retribution that will come to Salem in the same way that it came to the town of Andover.  They are both afraid for their lives, so they run away.

"Parris: Excellency. it profit nothing you should blame me.  I cannot think they would run off except that they fear to keep in Salem any more.  He is pleading.  mark it sir, Abigail had a close knowledge of the town and since the news of Andover has broken here.' (Miller)

The town of Andover is located near Salem, during the witchcraft hysteria in Salem, similar situations erupted in Andover, however, the people of the town objected to the proceedings that were finding respected people of the community guilty of witchcraft, so there was an uprising against the court and its officials.  The uprising among the people against the court ended the witchcraft hysteria in the town of Andover.

If the same events took place in Salem, an uprising of the people against the court and its officials, Abigail and Mercy would be right in the middle of it.  As experts on witchcraft and having given false statements to the court, they would be tried and probably hung for perjury.

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