Who is the leader of the girls in "The Crucible"? How would you describe Mary Warren in relation to the other girls?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Abigail Williams is the ruthless leader of the girls who falsely accuse innocent Salem citizens of engaging in witchcraft. At the beginning of the play, Abigail emerges as the leader of the girls by threatening them to corroborate her story or suffer the consequences. In act 1, Abigail tells the girls,

"Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you" (Miller, 20).

As the play progresses, Abigail becomes admired and revered throughout Salem as she openly accuses innocent citizens of witchcraft. She even attempts to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor by stabbing herself and accusing Elizabeth of sending her spirit to attack her. Abigail is confident, unsympathetic, and malevolent, which makes her the ultimate villain of the play. Miller describes her as having an "endless capacity for dissembling," and she capitalizes on the hysteria by acting like she is being attacked in court. The other girls are easily manipulated by Abigail and follow her lead as she wields her influence in court.

Similar to the other girls, Mary Warren is rather timid and succumbs to Abigail's manipulative techniques. Mary Warren initially supports Abigail and enjoys being in the community's spotlight like the other girls. She is also too afraid to challenge Abigail and finds it easier to follow her lead. John Proctor eventually forces Mary Warren against her will to admit that Abigail and the other girls are frauds. However, Mary Warren quickly recants her testimony after Abigail and the other girls begin accusing her of witchcraft.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Abigail Williams is the obvious leader.  She is headstrong, smart, and very manipulative.  She knows right from wrong, and twists is all around to her benefit.  She admits what they were doing in the forest to John Proctor, but threatens the other girls to stick by her by using the fear of being tried and hanged as witches.  They both love and fear her.  The admire her strength and want to be more like her instead of bowing down to the strict way of life of the Puritans, but they also fear the law of the community in which they live...partly because she uses it to her advantage to get them to do her bidding.

Mary Warren is not as strong as Abigail, but she also knows the truth of the matter.  She is stronger than the other girls who blindly follow Abigail's lead.  However, Mary is only strong in her conviction when John Proctor is there beside her.  She loses her strength and the will to tell the truth in the presence of Abigail and the other girls.  Her desire to be accepted by the Abby and the other girls is much stronger than her desire to please her employer, John Proctor. 

ms-mcgregor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The leader of the girls is Abigail Williams. She has the most to gain if the girls are successful because she wants to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor so she can marry John Proctor. Unfortunately, once the accusations begin to fly, the residents of Salem also use the accusations for their own benefit and Abigail loses control of the situation. This results in the death of John Proctor and her flight away from Salem. Mary Warren is a follower, not a leader, and of the group of girls making the witchcraft accusations. Abigail is able to use Mary when she makes the poppet, sticks a needle in it and gives it to Mary in order to accuse Elizabeth Proctor of being a witch. When John Proctor takes Mary to court to tell the truth, she is so afraid of Abigail, that she recants her testimony, and then rejoins the group of girls who are supposedly seeing a "spirit" in the form of a yellow bird in the room.