Abigail Williams Quotes
In The Crucible, what are some quotes that show Abigail Williams is selfish and manipulative?
In The Crucible, we see that Abigail Williams is selfish and manipulative when she tries to guilt John Proctor into continuing their affair (“You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! John, pity me, pity me!”). Abigail’s attempts to flatter John Proctor while subtly insulting his wife demonstrate her manipulative ability and selfishness.
1. In Act One, Betty Parris reveals Abigail's selfish personality by saying,
"You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!" (Miller, 19).
Abigail wishes to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor in order to have John all to herself. The fact that she is willing to drink blood and put a curse on Elizabeth reveals her selfish personality. Abigail is essentially willing to harm others in order to attain what she desires.
2. In Act One, Abigail reveals her manipulative personality when she is in the room alone with John Proctor. Abigail attempts to rekindle their relationship by telling John,
"I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your loneliness. Do you tell me you’ve never looked up at my window?" (Miller, 23).
However, John Proctor refuses to be manipulated by Abigail and does not give into her temptation.
3. Towards the end of Act Three, Abigail once again demonstrates her manipulative personality by acting like she sees Mary Warren's spirit circling the room. Abigail cries out to towards the ceiling,
"Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape. No, I cannot, I cannot stop my mouth; it’s God’s work I do" (Miller, 115).
4. In Act Four, Abigail once again demonstrates her selfish personality by stealing from her uncle and fleeing in the middle of the night. Abigail senses that the community will rebel against the court and selfishly abandons Salem before she is forced to confront the angry citizens. Parris laments at his difficult situation by telling Danforth,
"Excellency, I think they be aboard a ship. Danforth stands agape. My daughter tells me how she heard them speaking of ships last week, and tonight I discover my - my strongbox is broke into" (Miller, 126).
Abigail is extremely selfish. She looks out for her own needs only. She says to her friends in Act I:
Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you.
This threat demonstrates that Abby will go to any length, even abuse or murder to ensure that she alone is safe. She won't let her friends tell the truth lest she get caught for what they did.
One very simple phrase that helps demonstrate her selfishness occurs as she tries to convince him to continue having an adulterous relationship with her:
You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet! John, pity me, pity me!
She is imploring him to feel sorry for her. Selfish people seek this in others. She is asking him to give up his family to be with her.
All of these quotes are from Act 1, scene 2.
Abigail's manipulation comes out in her relationship with John Proctor. She demonstrates her cunning perception in these words to him:
I have a sense for heat, John, and yours has drawn me to my window, and I have seen you looking up, burning in your lonliness. Do you tell me that you've never looked up at my window?
In this moment, she gets him to admit his continued affection for her even though he is trying to repair his marriage from his previous affair with Abigail.
After using both imagery (sense for heat) and figurative language (burning in your lonliness), Abigail then attacks Elizabeth's character in an effort to persuade John to come back to her:
Oh, how I marvel how such a strong man may let such a sickly wife be -
Abigail compliment to John and slam to Elizabeth were both meant to manipulate him.
For more info on the characters in The Crucible, check out this interview with the cast of a theatrical production of the play: