What choices does Abigail make that affect the outcome of her situation in The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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At every point in the drama, Abigail Williams chooses to act in such a way that will increase her power over others. An orphan girl with an increasingly bad reputation in town, Abbie's one of Salem's outcasts. A marginalized, powerless figure, she craves the opportunity to exert power over others, and the witch-craze presents her with just such an opportunity.

Once Abbie starts pointing the finger of suspicion at people, she immediately senses her power. For the first time in her short life, she has control over others. Judge Danforth and the other members of the court instinctively believe her; the townsfolk, petrified that they'll be the next ones to be falsely accused of witchcraft, are frightened of her, as indeed are Mary Warren and the other girls with whom Abbie was cavorting in the forest that fateful night.

Having achieved such an extraordinary hold over other people for the first time in her short life, Abbie's not about to let go. Every decision that she makes from here on in—every lie, every false accusation, every blood-curdling threat—is concerned with maintaining the power that she's come to exercise over so many people. It's almost as if, in the irony of ironies, she's cast some kind of witch's spell over the good folk of Salem.

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Abigail makes one consistent choice that changes her fate in The Crucible by Arthur Miller--every chance she gets, she chooses to lie rather than tell the truth. While there are plenty of smaller choices she makes throughout the play, they are all connected to her choice to consistently lie rather than tell the truth.

Miller reveals Abigail's character to us before she ever speaks a word in the play. His description of her is simple:

a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling.

Notice he says her capacity for lying (dissembling) is limitless, and it does not take us long to believe it as we watch her in action, so to speak. 

Though having an affair with John Proctor which was a choice Abigail made, it has been seven months and what she is doing now is telling a series of lies in an effort to save herself from punishment and somehow get Proctor back.

Let's look at Abigail's lies and deceits:

  • She tells her uncle she was only dancing in the forest last night; we learn that she also drank blood and tried to put a curse on Elizabeth Proctor.
  • She...

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