Why does Abigail start accusing people in Act One?
In Act One, Parris chastizes Abigail for dancing in the forest with his daughter. Parris continually asks Abigail if she was involved in any type of witchcraft, but Abigail swears that she was not conjuring spirits. The Putnams then arrive and begin to discuss the rumors of witchcraft. After the Putnams and Parris leave Betty's room, Mary Warren tells Abigail that the entire countryside is talking about witchcraft. Mary fears that all the girls, including Abigail, will be accused of being witches. When Reverend Hale arrives and begins questioning Abigail about dancing in the forest, she begins to feel pressured and blames Tituba. When Tituba enters the room, Abigail swears that she made her drink blood. After Tituba begins confessing, Abigail senses an opportunity to further distance herself and begins accusing other Salem citizens of witchcraft. Essentially, Abigail does not want to be punished for dancing in the forest which happens to be a serious offense in Puritan society. She begins to blame other citizens in order to avoid suspicion of being a witch and realizes that her accusations are taken seriously. Abigail continues to manipulate the Puritan court by accusing other citizens in hopes of destroying Elizabeth so that she can have a relationship with John Proctor.
To save herself. She knows that the penalty for practicing witchcraft is death by hanging. At first, she sees Tituba as the easiest target, but then things get out of hand. Eventually, thirty-nine people are accused.
Abigail becomes heady with power. Although she probably began her accusations to save her own neck, she comes to enjoy the thrill of having the town scramble around and loves watching the panic that ensues. As her power grows, she begins to wield it more skillfully (in her thinking), believing that she can get rid of her nemesis, Elizabeth Proctor. Elizabeth is her former lover's wife, and with her out of the picture, Abigail is sure the prize, John, will be hers.