In Act I, what truths come out when the adults leave the girls alone in The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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A couple of things emerge when we see the girls alone.  Initially, we know who is the ringleader of the girls.  Abigail emerges as "the brains of the operation."  She is the one who seeks to gain the most from the girls' time in the forest and is the "enforcer" to make sure everyone sticks to the plan.  From this, we also learn that she is the most dangerous, in that she can compel others to her own will.  Her duplicitous nature is on display for all to see because when the adults are away, we see a forceful and insistent side that is not something to be dismissed.  The other element we learn is that while Abigail is the strongest, she is able to exert this force because the other girls are afraid of her.  Mary Warren, the weakest of the bunch is "put back in line" through Abigail's "persuasiveness."  Abigail's power is magnified by the fear and hold she has over others.  We see a "Mean Girl" tendency in how the girls interact with one another, whereby female intimidation is calculated and deliberate.  Finally, we understand through the narration that opened the scene that the manner in which Salem parents envision their children is opposite of how the children might actually behave.  The girls demonstrate this when the adults leave in that they are determining how to evade punishment and "what story to tell" as opposed to actually feeling remorse for what was done as a transgression.

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