Crucible Character Study of Abigail Williams

The Crucible
A scene from the Bristol Old Vic Company production of Arthur Miller's play 'The Crucible' in 1954 starring Abigail Williams, John Hale and John Williams. Thurston Hopkins / Getty Images

Abigail Williams, a vicious antagonist from Arthur Miller's The Crucible, will stop at nothing to attain her demented goals. In another writer’s hands, Abby could have been portrayed in a sympathetic light. After all, she is under age and has been sleeping with a supposedly honorable man thirteen years her senior. Arthur Miller, however, finds little humanity within her.

Abigail Williams' Reputation

Throughout the play, Proctor labels her a “harlot” and a “whore.” And perhaps Miller isn’t far off. According to the playwright’s research, the real Abigail Williams turned to prostitution several years after the Salem Witch Trials.

Her Almost Unrealistic Characteristics

  • She convinces young women to dance in the dark forest (a sinful act by Puritan standards).
  • She practices voodoo in an attempt to win back her lover, John Proctor.
  • She feigns demonic possession, luring the rest of the girls to behave the same way.
  • She plants evidence of witchcraft in Elizabeth Proctor’s home, hoping to send her to the gallows.
  • She manipulates the judges and denies having a relationship with Proctor.

Perhaps the most sinister act takes place after a dozen citizens have been hanged. Abigail steals Rev. Parris’ life savings and runs away, never to be heard from again.

In short, Miss Williams is a wretched, diabolic person!