What does Abigail think of herself?  What does she think of others?  What do others think about Abigail in The Crucible?

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andrewnightingale's profile pic

andrewnightingale | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Abigail seems to believe that she can control the destinies of others. This conviction becomes more and more apparent as the play progresses. When she realizes, after Tituba's confession, that she can absolve herself from any wrongdoing by blaming others, she undertakes this task with malicious relish. Governor Danforth's belief that the children are God's instruments also strengthens her supposition that she is beyond reproach. She uses her newfound authority to vent her anger and frustration against those whom she believes have done her wrong, and she sets out to take revenge. It is for this reason that she accuses Elizabeth Proctor of witchery and implicates the innocent woman by planting a needle in her stomach and screaming out during dinner. She claims that her ex-employer has used a poppet to harm her after seeing Mary Warren stick a needle into the stomach of a doll she was making for Elizabeth. 

Abigail does not care about anyone but herself. She wants it all and ironically calls the villagers hypocrites when she is actually the biggest hypocrite of all. Abigail threatens whoever she believes will stand in her way and has no qualms in even threatening Judge Danforth. The depth of Abigail's perverted selfishness is suitably illustrated at the end of the play when she steals her uncle's life-savings and surreptitiously leaves the village, never to be seen or heard from again. 

Abigail becomes a feared individual. At first, she is treated like some saint because she has taken the lead in the accusations of witchcraft, as Elizabeth states in Act ll:

—Mary Warren speak of Abigail as though she were a saint, to hear her. She brings the other girls into the court, and where she walks the crowd will part like the sea for Israel.

The more people are arrested and incarcerated, the greater the community's fear of Abigail becomes. She starts accusing others with impunity and even powerful men, such as John Proctor, fear her power. Elizabeth is afraid that Abigail wants her killed and expresses her anxiety to her husband. John calls Abigail a liar and a fraud and brings Mary Warren to court to prove his assertion. However, this attempt fails when Abigail leads the other girls in a charade and convinces the court that they (the accusers) are being threatened by the spirits of the accused. In the end, Reverend Parris, after discovering that she has stolen his money and absconded, attempts to tell the court that it should reconsider her testimony, but he cannot quite bring himself to say it:

But I thought to summon you, sir, that we might think on whether it be not wise to… there is news, sir, that the court, the court must reckon with. My niece… I believe she has vanished. 

It is ironic that one of the principal perpetrators of all the unfortunate events has escaped justice and has left chaos, grief, and misery in her wake.

favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Abigail seems to think very highly of herself.  She is confident in her ability to hide her dishonest behaviors in the woods as well as her ability to control the actions of the other girls.  She thinks of herself as a leader, and they treat her as one.  Further, she is confident in John Proctor's continued love for her, even though she's had no proof of it for many months now. 

She seems to think very little of others.  To John, she says, "I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men!"  In other words, she thinks they are all hypocrites (which many of them are), and she believes herself to be more knowing and more honest, ultimately, than they are. 

Others are suspicious of Abigail.  There is a rumor that Elizabeth Proctor does not come to church because "she will not sit so close to something soiled."  However, it is unlikely that Elizabeth said such a thing to anyone because she is anxious to protect her husband's reputation in the town.  Therefore, others must be suspicious of her in order for such a story to get around.