Why did Abigail drink blood? How did Abigail threaten the other girls? What does the conversation between Abigail, Mercy Lewis, Mary Warren and Betty reveal about their recent activities?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In act 1 of The CrucibleAbigail drinks blood as a charm to bring about Elizabeth Proctor's death because she is envious of Elizabeth and desires John Proctor.

When Reverend Parris demands to know what the girls have done the previous night, Abigail does not tell him everything. However, after Betty awakens, she reminds Abigail about what she has done.

BETTY: You drank blood, Abby! You didn’t tell him that! 
ABIGAIL: Betty, you never say that again!
BETTY: You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor’s wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor! 
ABIGAIL, (She smashes Betty across the face) Shut it! Now shut! 

Soon after this exchange, Mr. Putnam and his wife arrive and ask Reverend Parris questions about what has occurred to cause their Ruth to be "struck dumb." Abruptly, Putnam says to Parris, "You have discovered witchcraft." The Reverend Parris asks him not "leap to witchcraft." He also asks Putnam to leave so that he can pray before Mr. Hale comes to consult with him. Soon after the departure of Goody Putnam and her husband, Reverend Parris asks Abigail what occurred the night before. He also inquires if spirits were called upon during the night. Abigail denies any witchcraft but she accuses the servant Tituba and Ruth Putnam of such actions.

Later, Abigail talks with the other girls, informing them that Reverend Parris knows that Mercy was naked and that Tituba was waving her arms over a fire and uttering strange words. She also tells them that Goody Putnam has informed Parris about Tituba's conjuration of Ruth's sisters. Abigail then orders the girls to only admit that they danced and that Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam's sisters. They must not reveal anything else, or she will "come to [them] in the black of some terrible night" and make them wish they "had never seen the sun go down." Abigail threatens the girls because she realizes that if they are accused of witchcraft they could be severely punished. Additionally, her uncle, Reverend Parris, would be ruined.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Abigail was drinking blood in attempts to kill John Proctor's wife, Elizabeth. This action was an absolutely blatant example of Abigail's participation in "witchcraft." She was drinking a charm made by Tituba to try and kill Goody Proctor in hopes to continue on with the affair and get John Proctor all to herself. Readers discover this through Betty who states: "You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!"

Abigail threatened all the girls by telling them if they spoke the truth about what happened in the forest, then she would kill them. Specifically, she would come to them in "the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you." She confirmed her threatening actions by bringing up the fact that she could easily do something that evil due to the fact that she witnessed Indians kill her own parents while they were sleeping next to her. 

The conversation happening among the girls in Act I proves their guilt. Abigail is trying to cover her tracks. She is making sure all the girls know exactly what to admit and what to hide. Mary Warren's fear and worry causes her to bring up actions that did actually happen in the forest, angering Abigail. Betty also brings up things that happened in the forest that night to prove they all did things that made them all guilty. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial