Taking a look inside a person’s brain processes will explain areas of the brain the person has used in making his or her decisions. Taking those factors into consideration will either validate or invalidate one’s actions. In Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, Abigail William is known as a vengeful and manipulative liar to the reader.
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During the play, there are few psychological factors made known about the accusers and the accused. People in town did not question the girls’ intentions, but those who did take the dancing in the woods, the girls’ fears, and the vengeful side of Abigail William into account. Abigail William’s actions are influenced by her nature, developing adolescent brain, and the repressive society she lives in that created the hysterical mentality, and if receives the proper medical treatment and therapy, she may be able to live a fulfilling life.
From the very beginning, the nature surrounding Abigail Williams initiates reasons for her actions. More accurately, the nature feeds Abigail Williams all the greater reasons to act the way she is, as her lies grow. When the townspeople show enthusiasm towards the lies, the more Abigail is encouraged by their reaction. She is so encouraged by the enthusiasm, that in the process of being in the hysterical mindset somewhere in the process, she loses self-awareness of what she is doing. Abigail forming the group of girls who share her fear of punishments begins to think and act the same. By being in a group, not only eases the girls’ mind from their fear, but also ensures that even if they are discovered of their lies they will not be facing punishments alone. All the girls act as if they are one person that shares the same mind as shown in the court staring full front as though hypnotized and mimicking the exact tone of Mary Warren’s cry (107). By imitating Mary Warren’s words and actions, the girls are able to convince the judges in court that there is indeed an evil spirit flying around town that is telling them of their evil deeds.
Through nature, Abigail Williams faced sociological factors that surround Salem’s religious views and Court. The people especially pride themselves of their religion and their religious views. Since the town is created based upon their religion, and because people in town grew up in such confinement to those guidelines, that guides their actions, they forget their unique characteristics. So when the topic of witchcraft is brought up into town, it sets in among all classes when the balance began to turn towards to a greater individual freedom (6) someone like Abigail William who disrupts their peace and wants to seek out her true desires. Such adamantly rigid society of course implies that any form of individuality will be considered subversive and dangerous (Bonnet). No one in town prepares themselves for a rebellion because everyone believes that no one could have bloomed from anything if there is no seed to bloom rebels to begin with. Abigail begins the state of bedlam in town, so when people are accused of witchcraft people believe it because it did not matter to them whether the people are innocent or not, they just want to purge any form of sin and possibility of individuality. People lose their senses of morality when facing such scenario. Abigail is aware of this weakness and that is why she keeps going with her lies until other people come to the awaken of their morality sense. Playing in a safe environment in which the children felt free to express themselves without fear of negative repercussions (Burman, Sondra, and Paul-Allen-Meares) is not offered to the girls or kids in Salem. The girls fear the punishments so their actions are guided by their fear. Mary Warren knew the power Abigail holds over the court, so when John Proctor continuously encourage her she reacts by staring in horror: I cannot! (109). Throughout the court scene, Mary Warren thought that to survive the whole trial she needs to follow the person who held the most power, that is Abigail, and so she succumbs herself to her fear.
Making the most contribution to Abigail William’s actions, is her adolescent brain. Her brain explains the cause to her irrational and impulsive thinking. The reason that starts all this chaos is her decision to outweigh the rewards for making accusations than the possible consequences for lying. Given the power to lie, Abigail takes the opportunity right away without a second thought, as the adolescent mind has yet to comprehend all the brain’s area that specialize in planning. Abigail has indirectly admitted envy is deadly sin, Mary (106) as though that confession is more for herself rather than to Mary. She is driven by her greed for John Proctor. People in the grip of unfulfilled needs or desires and therefore emotionally fraught (Evans xvii), Abigail is filled with desires for someone who she knows she should not be involved with, but for that reason it draws her in to the mess. The whole trial gave her the sensation of excitement that intrigues her to continue her act. Like teens typically outweigh the reward to an action over future consequence. To her, the nineteen lives meant nothing if she achieves what she wanted achieve since the beginning. However her unhappy needs will become a net that will enmesh them all (Evans xviii). The end result of the play portrays that because of her selfish desires nothing was achieved and instead the worst possible outcome came true which force Abigail to flee town for a better chance of escaping death punishment.
The repressive society, that is Salem, is credited to Abigail’s greed for power and wants. Starting with the fact that females in Salem are not given the permission to have a say or action to anything at all. For the women, such as Abigail, witchcraft may be a way of asserting their will and their power in a system centered on and dominated by men (Bonnet). Historians have found that the majority of those who profess to witchcraft are women. This shows that women only profess to such practice is because they seek for power in any way or form they can. Through the confession of witchcraft and the trial, Abigail felt a sense of power and control for the first time. Not only did Abigail feel the power and control, she had but a sense of freedom where she is allowed to express her emotions openly. All these feelings are foreign to her because before the trial Abigail was just another servant with no say or control about anything at all.
A strict society like Salem does not allow individuals to have the privilege of individuality because the people in town fear that when an individual shows independent characteristic, they are opposing the peace in town. A a very closely knit society, consequently, prone to a certain amount of intolerance towards any form of opposition or dissent (Bonnet). Recalling the dancing in the woods, the people look upon such action as a sign of rebellion from the girls. When the topic of a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark (15) brought up in town, it creates the feeling of betrayal because in a place like Salem individual, who dares to repress their intentions in a Society where secrets are not allowed, is considered a ‘criminal’. The secrecy makes the people paranoid, which eventually causes the hysterical mentality. The townspeople feel as if they cannot trust anyone’s words. They choose to go along with the hysteria because they are given the opportunity to express what they have been repressing and the ability to act out on their true greed. The trial is as if a breath of fresh air, pungent of the greed and evil intentions the people, had stored up. It also acts as a mask that covers up the people’s evil goods. A man cannot organize his social life without repressions, and the balance has yet to be struck between order and freedom (7). A person’s social life needs the balance between order and freedom. Order to guide proper function, but at the same time freedom to freely express oneself.
Comparing Abigail William to a real life example of a victim who goes through post-traumatic stress disorder, the comparison shows sign of similar symptoms which explains most of Abigail William’s actions to why she acts the she does in the play. A person with post-traumatic stress disorder would have the same recurring memory of the event that causes the trauma. Abigail has confront to the girls that she saw Indians smash [her] dear parents’ heads on the pillow next to [hers] ( 19) goes to show the reader how often she thinks about such event and the effects it has on her. The lost of her parents led her to be deprives of affection and intimate relations. When a child witnesses his or her parent’s death, he or she will finds it difficult to trust a person he or she meets. If discourages by a guardian of any social interaction the child will faces future consequences of the lack of social life. So when Abigail opens up to John Proctor, the relationship they form is the closest thing Abigail has to the feeling of being need. John Proctor to Abigail is the light of [her eye] (22). She looks John Proctor as someone she can depends and be presents when she needs him. Abigail exclaiming that [she] look for John Proctor that took [her] from [her] sleep and put knowledge in [her] heart! (22). Abigail misses the kind of person, John is to her, a person who would not lie and confine her of her individual qualities. This creates Abigail’s reasons to go against the court and spourt lies about their people because she simply believes that Salem is at fault for the reasons why John leaves her. When a child of post-traumatic stress disorder is denied of something, his or her first reaction would involve violence towards the people around them. Abigail’s way for coping with John leaving, is to take revenge against the people in town.
Had Abigail received proper therapy treatments as a child, she would not have reason to come up with her lies and have an unstable mindset. For a child who has post-traumatic stress disorder, the child would be required to go through cognitive-behavioral techniques such as role modeling, observational learning of appropriate behaviors (especially self- control and handling anger) by behavior rehearsal in groups, and social skills training in peer groups were incorporated into the treatment (Burman, Sondra, and Paula Allen-Meares). Unfortunately for Abigail William, none of what is listed seem to be present for her. She especially lacks a role model. Her uncle, Reverend Parris, plants fear of what would happen if the words got out about her dancing in the words naked, but the reason for him to say such things are because he fears when the words do get out his reputation would be ruined. From the very beginning, Abigail was never taught or exposed to positive and appropriate behaviors that would have help her reflects on her actions.
By taking the nature perspective, developing brain and repressive society that Abigail William lives in, allow readers to form an opinion whether her actions can be validate or invalidate by taking all those factors into consideration. It is unfortunate to learn that Abigail was not offered help by those who knows about her past and for that reason she can not be the best person she can be. Before judging a person’s action, one must take everything about the person into perspective and then determine whether the person’s action can be reasonably explain.
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