Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” is superficially about the story of how one girl, of the lowest class, created paramount chaos in a brief time span, in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. The girl, named Abigail, manipulated the townspeople to become stricken with fear and terror. Underneath this external layer lies the story of persecution, deception and fallacious accusations. It is about how the social hierarchy of a seemingly rational town could be disarrayed, how deceit can become truth, how people can be wrongly victimized and condemned.
Mostly, it is of how one person can disturb the peace of a society, creating vast amounts of hysteria. One of the most important devices used in The Crucible is the one of the antagonist herself, Abigail Williams. She is described in the play as being a “strikingly beautiful girl, an orphan, with an endless capacity for dissembling” (page 8-9). She is a stunning, bewitching teenager of seventeen years, however, she is able to conceal and hide her true motives, thus making her the perfect villain for the story.
She has the typical femme fatale persona, one who brings disaster to men and all others who are unfortunately entwined in her sick games. Because of her ability to mask her intentions throughout the play, she manages to manipulate and exploit everyone in town with power to condemn and chastise the innocent. Abigail represents the repressed longings of all the Puritans in Salem. She is the only person in town who does not suppress her desires. She is the simplest character of all the major characters in the story, and has a clear objective of pursuing John Proctor after their affair, as well as eliminating Elizabeth.
Who Lies In The Crucible
Declaring witchcraft in Salem allowed Abigail to elevate in the social hierarchy system from being a servant, to one who is able to convict any towns-person of the worst allegation possible, Devil-worship. The setting in which the play is set is Salem, Massachusetts, in the late 17th century, in the year 1692. It is a Puritan society, indicating that it is a strict, solemn and fearful town. The people of Salem are gullible and superstitious, prone to being overly religious. Because of their devout attitude towards religion and God, they are daunted by many fears, including the fear of witchcraft, the Devil and Hell, death and of being caught.
In this restrictive community, one is not allowed to enjoy oneself or participate in celebration of any kind, instead, physical exertion and strict compliance with their religion are the most appropriate way to measure faith, trust and honesty. The Salem witch trials allowed those who held grudges to act upon them, allowing many innocent people to be found guilty, thereby sentenced to death by hanging. The time of the Salem witch trials is described by Arthur Miller as “One of the strangest and most awful chapters in human history. “