In Arthur Millerr’s play The Crucible the author uses Abigailr’s ambition for power, and Mary Warrenr’s struggle to obtain the power to convey how mass hysteria can affect two completely different personalities and change them if they are not careful. Abigailr’s ambition for power impacts the people close to her as they feel the repercussions of her actions, while she leaves everyone in her wake. As Abigail struggles to control her power over the girls, while also trying to keep her innocent appearance, she often doesnt realize the pain that she is causing other people throughout the play.
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For instance, after Betty attempts to fly towards her mother she says, You drank blood, Abby! You didnt tell him that! (Miller 1.155), Abigail threatens all the girls.
She is trying to protect herself and protect the power that she has over the girls with threats that are so brutal and violent that the girls have no choice but to believe her for their own safety. While Abigail also shows a lighter side to her personality during her conversation with John Proctor, she wants to keep their charade going. Like a company leader having an affair with an employee at the office, but the employee wants to keep the affair going and the boss wants to end it. Abigail is very controlling with the girls and even with Proctor, who is older than her. During her encounter with Proctor, she even says, Give me a word, John. A soft word, (1.179) she wants to control everything in her life and everyone. When it comes to her uncle, Parris, she often cowers down in fear and resents him. During the stage directions Miller uses language like, in terror, to show that when she speaks to Parris that she uses a different tone. The reader views the interactions between Abigail and Parris in a way that she is subtlety agreeing with him because of her social class in the society.
She is living in a Puritan society that doesnt value or respect women, she must rely on Parris for his protection and security. Similarly, Mary Warren enjoys the power that she has gained due to her not participating in the dance, only watching it. After the court scene is underway with Mary Warren being the center of attention, she instantly takes a liking to her new importance and power. She says to John Proctor, after he forbids her from speaking in the court, I must tell you, sir, I will be gone every day now. (2.130) Then reaffirms her status in the court telling him, Four judges and the King’s deputy sat to dinner with us but an hour ago. I would have you speak civilly to me, from this out. (2.145) Mary Warren is just a servant speaking to her boss in a way that could earn her a whipping, but Proctor cannot do it, as Mary Warren could testify against his wife. Mary Warren has no idea how this newly gained power feels due to her social standing, not only being a servant but also because she is a woman.
After she her attempt to rekindle her relationship with Elizabeth Proctor, Johnr’s wife, by making the poppet backfires she instantly feels guilty and decides to testify against Abigail. While, she is afraid for her life she tells John Proctor, She’ll kill me for sayin’ that! […] Abby’ll charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor, (2.429) her relationship with Elizabeth Proctor means more than hers with Abigail. Mary Warrenr’s guilty conscience and awful attempt to please Elizabeth Proctor shows that she is unlike Abigail, she doesnt contain the malice to hurt someone that is so close to her. Millerr’s depictions of Abigail and Mary Warren show the reader the two personalities that can be affected when mass hysteria effects such a small town. There is the psychopath, Abigail, that can be swept up in the conflicts and use it for their own personal gain, or there is the compassionate and immature person, Mary Warren, who can get caught up in a bad decision, but still prove that she is still a good person in the end.
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