Who has the most power in The Crucible?

Abigail Williams has the most power in The Crucible. Just one word from Abigail is enough to send an innocent person to their death if they are convicted as a witch. Abigail relishes her newfound power because as a young woman in a patriarchal, Puritan society, she's never had any power before.

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If there's one person in Salem with absolute power, it's Abigail Williams. Thanks to the crazed witch hunt that she and her friends have started, she has become the most powerful—and certainly most feared—individual in town. Once the witch hunt begins in earnest, Abigail is in a prime position to...

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If there's one person in Salem with absolute power, it's Abigail Williams. Thanks to the crazed witch hunt that she and her friends have started, she has become the most powerful—and certainly most feared—individual in town. Once the witch hunt begins in earnest, Abigail is in a prime position to destroy people's lives and reputations; all she has to do is make a false accusation, and it's a virtual certainty that the hapless victims of her slander will end up convicted of witchcraft—and executed if they don't confess.

By rights, it should be the judges and religious leaders, the custodians of law and social order, who are the most powerful people in town. But just like everyone else, men like Judge Hathorne, Reverend Parris, and even Reverend Hale are in thrall to Abigail, hanging on every word she says, even as it becomes more and more obvious that she's telling barefaced lies. In deferring to Abigail, these men are guilty of a grave dereliction of duty, as well as moral cowardice. By the time Reverend Hale accepts the truth of Abigail's deceit, it is too late to quell the hysteria, and many innocents have already been put to death.

What's interesting about power in Salem is that the witch trials have seemingly flipped the traditional balance of power in this normally patriarchal, Puritan society, leaving the fate of the town in the hands of a small group of teenage girls. A young orphan without many prospects in life, Abigail previously existed very much in the margins of Salem society. Now, as the ringleader of the accusers, Abigail is the center of attention, and she's not about to give up her exalted position. She positively revels in her newfound power and status—having never had either before, she seems to find the experience intoxicating.

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