Motivations of Abigail Williams in The Crucible

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 797 |

Pages: 2|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 797|Pages: 2|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Desire for Power
  2. Personal Vendetta
  3. Fear of Punishment
  4. Conclusion
  5. Bibliography

Abigail Williams is a complex character in Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, whose motivations drive her to commit heinous actions throughout the story. In this essay, we will explore the various motivations behind Abigail's actions, analyzing how her desire for power, her personal vendetta, and her fear of punishment influence her behavior. By examining these motivations, we can gain a deeper understanding of Abigail's character and the role she plays in the overall narrative of the play.

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Desire for Power

One of Abigail's primary motivations for her actions in The Crucible is her desire for power. From the beginning of the play, it is evident that she craves control and influence over others. This motivation is highlighted when Abigail takes advantage of the witch trials to manipulate the townspeople and accuse innocent individuals of witchcraft.

For example, in Act One, Abigail falsely accuses Tituba of practicing witchcraft, knowing that this accusation will incite fear and hysteria among the villagers. This allows her to position herself as a key figure in the investigation, gaining authority and control over the proceedings. Abigail's motivation for power is evident here, as she exploits the fear and chaos surrounding the witch trials to elevate her own status and exert influence over others.

This desire for power is further exemplified in Abigail's relationships with other characters in the play. She manipulates the court by pretending to be afflicted by the spirits of those she accuses, thus ensuring that her influence is maintained. Additionally, she uses her relationships with influential figures, such as her affair with John Proctor, to further her own agenda and consolidate her power.

Abigail's motivation for power is a driving force behind her actions in The Crucible, as she uses the witch trials as a means to assert control and dominance over others.

Personal Vendetta

Another motivation that influences Abigail's actions is her personal vendetta against Elizabeth Proctor, John Proctor's wife. Abigail's affair with John creates a deep resentment towards Elizabeth, and she sees the witch trials as an opportunity to eliminate her romantic rival. This personal vendetta drives Abigail to accuse Elizabeth of witchcraft in an attempt to remove her from the picture and reclaim John's affection.

The text supports this motivation for Abigail's actions in numerous instances. In Act Two, Abigail stabs herself with a needle and accuses Elizabeth of using voodoo to harm her. This manipulation allows Abigail to further her personal agenda by casting doubt on Elizabeth's innocence and credibility, thus increasing the likelihood of her conviction.

Furthermore, in Act Three, Abigail's motivation for revenge against Elizabeth is evident when she pretends to see a yellow bird in the courtroom. She claims that the bird is a familiar spirit sent by Elizabeth to torment her, effectively framing Elizabeth as a witch. Abigail's personal vendetta against Elizabeth is a key factor motivating her actions throughout the play, as she seeks to eliminate her romantic rival and regain control over John.

Fear of Punishment

Lastly, Abigail's fear of punishment serves as a significant motivation for her actions in The Crucible. As the witch trials intensify and more innocent people are accused and executed, Abigail becomes increasingly aware of the consequences of her own actions. She understands that if the truth about her manipulation and deceit were to be revealed, she would face severe punishment.

This fear of punishment is evident in Act One when Abigail threatens the other girls involved in the witch trials, warning them not to reveal the truth about their actions in the woods. She understands that if the truth were to come to light, she would be held accountable for her lies and manipulation.

Furthermore, in Act Four, when the court begins to question the validity of the witch trials, Abigail realizes that her actions may be exposed. This realization prompts her to flee Salem, fearing the consequences that await her if she remains. Abigail's fear of punishment is a significant motivation for her actions throughout the play, as she desperately tries to maintain her deception and avoid the consequences of her deceit.


In conclusion, Abigail Williams is a complex character in The Crucible whose motivations drive her to commit heinous actions throughout the play. Her desire for power, personal vendetta, and fear of punishment all contribute to her manipulative and deceitful behavior. By analyzing these motivations, we gain a deeper understanding of Abigail's character and the role she plays in the overall narrative of The Crucible. Abigail's motivations highlight the dangers of unchecked power, personal vendettas, and the potential consequences of fear-driven actions.

Overall, Abigail's motivations serve as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the destructive power of unchecked ambition and the lengths individuals may go to protect themselves. The Crucible serves as not only a historical reflection but a timeless exploration of human nature and the motivations that drive our actions.

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Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Classics, 2003.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Motivations of Abigail Williams in The Crucible. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Motivations of Abigail Williams in The Crucible.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
Motivations of Abigail Williams in The Crucible. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Motivations of Abigail Williams in The Crucible [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 13 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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