In The Crucible who was dancing in the forest with Tituba, and what were the motivations of each person?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There was a whole crowd of girls there, some that we know of, and other unnamed girls that don't have enough of a significant role in the play for Miller to have even mentioned them. The girls that we do know, that are named, are Abby, Betty, Ruth, Mary Warren, Mercy Lewis, and Tituba.

Abby is there to attempt to kill off Elizabeth Proctor, so that she can then dance in and be John's wife.  She is in love with John, they had an affair, and as a result, Abby envy's Elizabeth. So, she goes to the forest to create "a charm to kill Goody Proctor."  Rather evil, if you ask me, and essentially, the only one in the play that can truly be accused of actually attempting a form of witchcraft, in addition to Goody Putnam, who asks Tituba to conjure the spirits of her dead children to discover who killed them.

Speaking of Tituba, she was there because Abby "begged" her to make a charm against Goody Proctor, and because Mrs. Putnam had asked her to try to speak to her dead children's spirits.  She was just doing the bidding of other people.  As a slave beholden to white masters, she probably feared the repercussions of saying no to these women.

Mary Warren was there because she's a follower.  She wanted to be accepted, had no spine of her own, so went along for the ride in order to be included.  This can also be said of Mercy Lewis, who Miller describes as a "fat, sly girl" who enjoys attention and probably doing something a bit edgy.

Betty, unfortunately, was probably just carried on the tide of Abby's strength; Abby is like a stronger, older sister to Betty, and through peer pressure and the sheer force of her will, Abby probably had Betty go along with her.

So, either through intentional purposes and ulterior motives, or through peer pressure and wanting to do something exciting, this group of girls gathered in the woods to dance, and that is where all of the trouble began.  I hope that helped; good luck!

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mary Warren's motivation seems to have been wanting to be included, perhaps to fit in with the other girls.  When she tries to convince Abby to confess, she says, "I never done none of it, Abby.  I only looked!"  Mercy's response implies that Mary really never joins in but that she always wants to be included.  Miller tells us that she is a "naive [and] lonely girl," so this helps to account for her motives.  She doesn't want to be left out.

Abby tells Mercy Lewis that her uncle, Reverend Parris, knows that "Tituba conjured Ruth's sisters to come out of the grave."  Mrs. Putnam has already admitted to Parris that she sent her daughter, Ruth, to Tituba to conjure these spirits and find out who murdered Mrs. Putnam's dead babies.  This was Ruth's motivation, then.

Abby tells Mercy that Parris saw Mercy "naked" and running through the trees, and Mercy seems to be somewhat titillated by this news; she claps her hands "with a frightened laugh."  Miller also describes her as "merciless."  The fact that she was the only girl to be naked in the woods indicates that her motives might have been to break rules, to deny and defy Puritan social mores by being bad.

Abigail, as the other poster noted, "drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor" -- she is interested in the death of her former lover's wife so that she can claim him and have him all to herself.  She believes that he still loves her, and she hopes to "dance with [him]" on his wife's grave, as Elizabeth Proctor says in Act Two.  Her motives are selfish and murderous.