What are some quotes that show how Abigail Williams is a victim of her society in The Crucible?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Another early interaction helps to show how Abigail has been a victim of her society.  When she speaks alone with John Proctor in act one, he rebuffs her renewed advances toward him; despite any lingering feelings he may have for Abigail, he will not resume their affair.  When she threatens his wife, Elizabeth, he threatens to whip her.  Abigail responds, 

I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!  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!  And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes?  I will not, I cannot!

We must not forget that Proctor is in his "middle thirties," while Abigail is seventeen, still a child in many ways.  Any sexual relationship between them nowadays would be considered statutory rape because Abigail is too young to legally consent to sex.  Obviously, this was not the law then, but their relationship still seems somewhat predatory as a result of their age difference and her youth.  Thus, she is victimized by John (even if she does not recognize it).  

Further, Abigail talks about the hypocrites of Salem, presumably referring to people who profess to be God-fearing Christians but who, in reality, do not act properly.  It sounds as though she has been harmed by them in some way, though it is not entirely clear to us how.  She identifies their hypocrisy, presumably something she was taught by Proctor, and seems to feel victimized by the community's "lying lessons."

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Crucible, Abigail is a victim of the society that fails to help her recover from her parents' violent death.

Abigail does plenty wrong in The Crucible.  She demonstrates little hesitation in manipulating the truth and others in order to get her way.  However, in one of the first exchanges with the other girls, she displays a significant aspect to her characterization. Abigail is staying with her uncle, Reverend Parris, because of her parents' death.  It is clear that this was a very violent episode in her life.  When she has to wrangle the will of the other girls and stop them from confessing, Abigail threatens them with physical harm:   "And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down!"  Abigail experiences the psychological effects of violence.  The experience of her parents' death has lingered within her. To a certain extent, people in Salem are to blame for not understanding the effect this would have had on a child.  Abigail is a victim of this violence and is a victim to a social order that fails to account for this traumatic impact on her psychological development.  This does not excuse what she does. However, it does show that people such as Abigail are not "born" the way they are, but rather made through specific interactions.  

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question