What threat does Abigail make to the other girls in The Crucible?

In The Crucible, Abigail threatens to stab and kill the other girls in the middle of the night if they "breathe a word" about the other things that happened in the forest.

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Abigail Williams makes it abundantly clear to the other girls that if they ever open their mouths about what they got up to in the forest that night, they'll be in serious trouble. To be specific, she says that she'll come for them in the middle of the night and stab them. This is what she means when she threatens them with what she calls "a pointy reckoning."

In most such cases, we might reasonably think that this kind of threat is idle, a way of scaring impressionable young girls into keeping their mouths shut. But what makes Abigail's threat so chillingly plausible is the fact that she witnessed her parents being killed by Native Americans.

This tells the other girls that she knows how to go about killing someone, and in their beds, too. In referencing what happened to her parents, Abigail is also playing upon the prevailing prejudice of Puritans regarding the supposed savagery of Native Americans.

Once they've heard this blood-curdling threat, the other girls are suitably spooked out of their minds. This makes it easier for Abigail to manipulate them, to get them to do whatever she wants. Indeed, that was the whole point of threatening them with death in the first place.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 25, 2020
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In act 1, Reverend Parris discovers his niece, Abigail Williams, and several other girls dancing in the woods. In the austere Puritan town of Salem, dancing in the woods is strictly forbidden, and the girls risk being severely punished for their actions.

After being caught by Reverend Parris, Betty remains inert on her bed and the girls fear the consequences of their actions. When Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren arrive at Parris's home, Parris leaves his daughter's room and Betty suddenly attempts to jump out of the window. Mary Warren then communicates her fears that they will be whipped for dancing in the woods and that the town will accuse them of being witches.

Betty then mentions that Abigail placed a charm on Goody Proctor, and Abigail responds aggressively by slapping her across the face. Abigail then instructs the girls to corroborate her story by using Tituba as a scapegoat and saying that she only conjured spirits. Abigail then says,

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. 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's comments depict her cruel, hostile personality and illustrate how she uses the threat of violence to manipulate others. Mary Warren, Betty, and Mercy Lewis fear Abigail and obediently follow her directions. Throughout the play, Abigail becomes increasingly ruthless and evil by falsely accusing innocent people of witchcraft, pretending to faint in court, and attempting to murder Elizabeth Proctor. Abigail's violent, reckless reputation proceeds her, and the girls cower in her presence.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on November 25, 2020
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The episode of dancing in the woods, with Tituba, is highlighted with the conjuring of spirits, the illicit behavior of Mercy Lewis, who danced naked, and Abigail Williams drinking blood as a charm to get John Proctor away from his wife, namely by wishing Elizabeth Proctor dead.

After they are caught by Reverend Parris, and his daughter Betty, along with Ruth Putnam, are sick in mysterious ways the next morning, Abigail becomes very anxious about anyone finding out about what the girls actually did in the woods.  She knows that they will be punished for their behavior it is against the Puritan code of behavior to do such things.  She also knows that she, alone, is guilty of a more serious charge, the drinking of blood qualifies as witchcraft.

The other girls get very frightened when Reverend Parris becomes so upset about Betty's illness that he sends for Reverend Hale of Beverly who is an authority on witchcraft and bewitching of people. 

Betty, lying in her bed still and with her eyes closed, won't wake up because she is too frightened to face her father's punishment.  Abigail becomes frantic that some of the girls will tell in an effort to save themselves from being serverely punished.

Abigail comes up with a plan, she threatens the girls, to make sure that they don't confess to their parents or Reverend Parris what actually went on in the woods.  She wants them to say that they were only dancing, nothing else.  She is determined to make them listen to her, she is a forceful personality.  She makes it clear that she is capable of harming them, if anyone told the truth, she would come to them in the night with a sharp, pointy object and kill them.  She tells them that she means what she says, because she saw her parents murdered right in front of her.

Addressing the girls, Abigail makes the following threat:

"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."  (Miller)

She wants to make sure that she has full authority over the girls and that they won't utter a word of the truth to anyone. Her final comments are:

"I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down." (Miller)

 

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