The Crucible is an informative play by Arthur Miller depicting the Salem Witch Trial in Salem, Massachusetts, towards the end of the 17th century. People accused of being witches are taken to court and several witnesses are called upon to testify. Out of all the witnesses, Abigail Williams is the one who causes all the mayhem in Salem through her concocted lies driven by sexual desire, revenge, and lust for power as explained in this paper.
First, Abigail is an outright liar and she lies about almost everything she says. Miller (1953) describes her as “seventeen…a strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling” (p. 8). In other words, she is a little liar, who cannot be trusted. Initially, she admits that she did not do anything else in the forest apart from dancing and even convinces the other girls not to admit to anything. However, after Tituba confesses that she has been communing with the devil, Abigail resorts to lying and claims that she has seen the devil frolicking and conspiring with other people in the town. Therefore, on her account, the claims become more believable, and even in court, she testifies that she knows the witches. She even convinces the other girls to lie that Mary has bewitched them, and interestingly, the court believes her. Every witness account is part of Abigail’s twisted thinking as she seeks to advance her lies and achieve selfish goals.
Second, Abigail causes all the mayhem through lies because she wants to revenge her loss of job and love after being fired by Elizabeth Proctor for having an affair with John Proctor. Before the witch claims emerge, Abigail works for the Proctors whereby she is involved in an illicit affair with John. Therefore, when Elizabeth learns about the affair, she fires Abigail. Therefore, in her quest to revenge this act, Abigail decides to lie and convince the other girls to implicate Elizabeth and all her friends as witches, thus causing mayhem in Salem. She confesses that she still desires John, but he tells her off and warns her to stop the foolishness of other girls.
Third, looking at Abigail’s background, it is clear that she craves power and by implicating Salem’s ministers, she feels to have achieved this goal. She is an orphan and unmarried occupying low rungs on the social ladder in Salem. Therefore, for someone young like she is, the ministers in society are earthly representations of the Almighty, which connotes power. As such, in the court during the trials, the girls are allowed to behave as though they have direct access to God by facing His earthly representatives. She now has the power to accuse these ministers of devil-worship by being witches, and if she succeeds, she would be considered a powerful figure in society. This assertion explains why she lies about everything even when it is clear that her claims are inconsistent. Ultimately, she ends up causing mayhem in Salem.
The Crucible is an entertaining and true account of events that happened in the Puritan New England town of Salem in 1692. Abigail is responsible for causing the greatest mayhem in Salem through her manufactured lies that she feeds the court in an attempt to avenge her loss of love and job coupled with attaining some sense of power as explained in this paper.
Miller, Arthur. (1953). The Crucible. Penguin Books.