Critical Analysis of The Crucible by Arthur Miller

Essay by mpagriHigh School, 11th gradeA-, April 2004

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Hear No Spirits, See No Spirits

How Abigail Williams controlled the town of Salem not by divine intervention, but by slyness and manipulation

What is hysteria? The American Heritage Dictionary claims that it is a state of uncontrollable emotion, such as panic or fear. Hysteria, though, goes much beyond that, hysteria is a chain reaction, waiting to be set off by the smallest of sparks. In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, that spark was one young girl, but that spark had a potential of great magnitudes. The widespread chaos in Salem was the direct result, not of a group of girls' ability to sense spirits, but of Abigail Williams' ability to control the town with manipulation and fear. Abigail used her power of manipulation to gain respect from the court officials, and once she had their support she was able to take advantage of her new position in the hierarchy to directly bring upon Salem a state of hysteria and confusion.

Abigail, in the very beginning was among the accused, but using her guile she completely turned the tables, and in the end brought upon Salem its dire history.

Abigail repeatedly used her slyness and power to manipulate to escape situations that were not in her favor. In the beginning of the play, Parris has just discovered that his niece and a handful of other girls were out in the woods dancing and chanting by moonlight. He was trying to find out what exactly went on on, and the girls eventually placed all the blame on Tituba. At this point in the play Abigail displayed her first evasion from an unfavorable position. Abigail accused Tituba of forcing her to take part in Tituba's devil worshipping, after which Tituba confessed to trafficking with the devil. Tituba claimed that she has...