Abigail Williams is often viewed as conniving and evil; however, she was an unmarried, adolescent, orphan living in an oppressive puritan society that left her victimized. Abigail is an orphan and a single girl. John was the only one who showed her love and compassion. Abigail was a young teen having an affair with a grown man, John Proctor. He influenced her to be rebellious. She had no one else to put knowledge in her heart. Abigail was also living in an oppressive puritan society. She felt weak due to her gender and age. The court cases allowed her to feel power and strength for the first time in her life. But while none of these reasons justify her actions, they do make them more coherent and allow readers to comprehend Abigail’s reasoning for committing such catastrophic acts.
Early on in the play, readers quickly learn that Native Americans murdered Abigail’s parents. Which Abigail had to witness first hand. Such a bizarre and dreadful event leaves Abigail scarred, and strips her from her childhood innocence. She is then adopted by Reverend Parris. After the adoption, Abigail must bear the title of an unmarried, orphan teenage girl. This title puts her at a low rank in Salem society. The only people that would be below her were slaves or indentured servants (Tituba). But then when she met John Proctor, he gave her a sense of love and compassion. Abigail before never experienced this affection. She did not want to loose it. And even though it is evident that the relationship is over in John’s eyes’, it is not in Abigail’s’. In fact, in Abigail’s’ mind, the only person that stands in the way between her and John being together is Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor’s wife. So to eliminate Elizabeth Proctor, Abigail starts a mass hysteria that will, ironically enough, eliminate her true love instead, John Proctor.
“I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart!” (Miller 24). After Abigail states these words to John in Act I, the audience quickly learns of their past relationship. Adding to the pile, the audience also already knows that Abigail is an unmarried orphan. Putting the two together would only cause mayhem. Abigail essentially had no other source of influence in her life. John was all she knew. John teaches her to be rebellious. However, Abigail takes the rebellion to a whole new level and ultimately leads to about 20 innocent deaths. But this was not her fault. Abigail was a naïve teen being stabbed by the cold dagger of love. She wanted to please John in anyway she could. If he taught to be rebellious, then she would become rebellious. Anything that would keep her from being at the bottom of the class again: alone, unmarried, and orphaned.
In Salem, Massachusetts and Puritan society, it is nature that decided that women are subordinate to men. Abigail was a woman who was greatly affected by the strict Puritan society and theocratic based government. She was an adolescent, orphaned, and unmarried girl living in a world that strips her of her rights. The court cases allow Abigail to have an overwhelming feeling of power. She knows that just with the change of one word will dictate someone to live or die. The power that she was granted was overbearing, and obviously used tyrannically. Even when the public found out about the affair she had with John, she remained apathetic towards the topic. She knew that if anyone approached her about it, she would accuse him or her of conversing with Lucifer. And in Salem, that is the worst possible sin/crime any human can commit.
Abigail Williams is often viewed as conniving and evil; however, she was an unmarried, adolescent, orphan living in an oppressive puritan society that left her victimized. By nature, she had no choice but to rebel against the common belief. Her parents were murdered right by her bedside, she was not allowed to speak unless spoken to, and she was brought into a society in which she did not choose. When all of these elements are added together, they create a power hungry and lustful naïve girl. She just wanted to be with the one who made her feel like she matters. But ironically ends up leading him to the gallows instead.