The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is Abigail's motivation in The Crucible?

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Abigail Williams is not a likeable or admirable character, but she is a thoroughly understandable one. Her parents were brutally murdered, and she has had to live as a poor relation in the house of the selfish, tyrannical, and close-fisted Reverend Parris. She lives in a community of boring, uncharitable, sanctimonious hypocrites, where her beauty is held against her and any attempt to enjoy herself is doomed to failure. She enters the Proctor house with the status of a servant (we see how brutally John Proctor treats Mary Warren, her successor) and notices that the man of the house, still comparatively young and virile in his mid-thirties, is attracted to her. It is only to be expected that they should have an affair, and one might think that Proctor, who is twice Abigail's age, might take some responsibility for it. However, the Proctors simply send her away, and the gossips of Salem are determined to paint her as a scarlet woman.

Abigail's beauty gave her some power over John...

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