This vicious antagonist 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.
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 deviousness almost makes her unrealistic:
- 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!