The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What are the direct and indirect characterizations of Abigail Williams in Miller's The Crucible?

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Direct characterization is when we are told, directly, what traits a certain character possesses. Indirect characterization is when we must examine a character's behavior and speech in order to make inferences about their traits.

One example of the direct characterization of Abigail is created when, in between characters' speech in Act 1, Miller says that Abigail is "strikingly beautiful" and has an "endless capacity for dissembling." We learn that Abigail is very good at lying and deceiving others. Later, however, Abigail is indirectly characterized by her threats against the other girls. When her cousin, Betty, accuses her of drinking a charm to kill Goody Proctor, Abigail "smashes her across the face" and warns the others that she will "come to [them] in the black of some terrible night and [she] will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder [them]." In other words, she literally threatens them with murder; this indirectly characterizes her as a selfish, vengeful, and manipulative person...

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