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Power is the ability to influence the behavior of others or the course of events. Power is what allows for a tranquil society and a safe life. When given power people can choose to use it for good, but others can choose to use their power to negatively impact others. This is exactly what happens in the play The Crucible, created in 1953, by playwright Arthur Miller. In this play, a girl named Abigail is given the power to prosecute anyone she desired for practicing witchcraft. This goes to show that power can be dangerous when it is placed in the wrong hands.
The Crucible is about the Salem, Massachusetts, Witch Trials of 1692, in which people were accused of witchcraft and were only given two options: confess to a sin they never did, or get hanged as punishment. A prominent role in the play is by a beautiful, seventeen-year-old girl named Abigail. Abigail was the niece of the town’s minister, Reverend Parris. She had also served as a servant.
One night, Abigail and a group of the town’s girls sneaked into the woods with Parris’ slave, Tituba, to dance and cast a spell to make the men they fancied fall in love with them. They were being loud and dancing. Meanwhile, Parris was walking by and heard them. Once Parris had discovered them, they ran off. When Abigail and Parris were both at home together, she told him that they were only dancing. Parris said to Abigail, “And I thought I saw – someone naked running through the trees!”. Abigail denied this and says, “No one was naked! You mistake yourself, uncle!”. Parris is worried about his good name being ruined and insists he saw it. Abigail once more denies these claims and Parris was half convinced.
The next morning, Parris’ daughter, Betty, wasn’t waking up. Another girl of the town, named Ruth Putnam, also was unresponsive. This was believed to have happened because of the events in the woods the night before. Reverend Hale from Beverly then came to Salem to examine the girls due to his extensive knowledge on witchcraft. The girls are then questioned about the dancing and insist that it had nothing to do with witchcraft. Reverend Hale then asks who Abigail saw with the devil. Abigail said, “I saw Sarah Good with the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget Bishop with the Devil!”. Sarah Good and Goody Osburn were two local outcasts and were easy targets for Abigail. Bridget Bishop was also added to the list, and she would be the first person to be executed as a result of the Salem Witch Trials. At this moment, Abigail realizes she has some power and can condemn whoever she pleases. Sarah Good, Goody Osburn, and Bridget Bishop are then all arrested and tried in court for witchcraft and would all eventually be executed.
She was able to accuse someone of cooperating with the devil and they will be tried in court. Those accused didn’t have a choice but to defend themselves or confess for something they never did. In the end, more than one hundred people had been accused by Abigail and the other girls lying with her.
Abigail is an example of power going to someone’s head. She was given power through lies and used it to harm others and ruin people’s lives and names. Power in the wrong hands is dangerous and can lead to the destruction of lives. This can happen in the real world, and Abigail is evidence of that.
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