Manipulation as a Sign of a Social Weakness in Miller’s “Crucible”

«The Crucible» is a story written by Arthur Miller that discusses various human qualities and focuses on the relations that can be developed between people of different social statuses, gender, and age. In this paper, the cases of manipulation, as one of the most dangerous types of social influence, will be discussed. The play’s antagonist, Abigail Williams, is one of the brightest literary examples of how manipulation and seduction may set in motion the tragic event that took so many innocent lives. At the same time, it seems to be inappropriate to blame Abigail for everything bad happening in the play because her ability to manipulate, cheat, and achieve her goal may serve as a sign of the social weaknesses and inabilities to use personal knowledge. In «The Crucible», Millers discusses the themes like the social situation in the middle of the 20th century, the fear of citizens, and the moral responsibility of people that can be destroyed in a short period because of one person’s ability to manipulate and use her seduction and charms on weak people.

There are many reasons why a person should read Miller’s «Crucible», at least, one time per life. Someone may think that it is an ordinary story that describes the events that took place in the middle of the 1900s when numerous witch trials bothered the citizens of Salem. However, the power of this play is the possibility to underline human weaknesses and strengths. The example of Abigail may cause sympathy and compassion as well as anger and discontent. On the one hand, Abigail is introduced as a manipulative seductress, who can convince people and use some facts to prove her point of view and achieve her selfish personal goals. She can use the power of word and conviction to make people do and believe in what she wants:

Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it. (Miller, n.d., p. 20).

At the same time, the attention to her parents’ death when “Indians smash my dear parents” heads on the pillow next to mine” (Miller, n.d., p. 20) and the description of the relations with John Proctor, who thinks of her “softly from time to time” but tries to never rich her again and makes her “wipe it out of mind” (Miller, n.d., p.23) make Abigail choose this method of revenge. She understands that John does not have the intention to be with her and identifies John’s wife, Elizabeth, as the barrier that should be destroyed. Her selfishness and desire to be loved are the reasons for her actions. She is goal-oriented in comparison to other people around her. Abigail uses the weaknesses of the current social situation and uses people. Is it fair? Of course, it is because people should be blamed for their inabilities to distinguish where truth and lies are.

Abigail’s manipulation is the best evidence that the social situation in Salem is not perfect. People put themselves under a threat doing nothing to clarify the situation. Abigail uses this chance and can be justified regarding the information given. There are many people, who are aware of the actual state of affairs like Samuel Parris and Betty. They can change the story in a moment. Still, their fears prevent them from taking some actions because there are many enemies around, who can use these fears and facts and ruin everything (Miller, n.d.).

Regardless of the moral responsibility that is crucial for many respected members of the community, Abigail can use her poor social status and hide it using her innocence, female nature, and young age. People forget about their abilities to think independently and rely on personal experience. The power of a crowd is impressive, and society cannot resist it.

In general, Abigail’s behavior can be understood regarding the weaknesses of the society she has to live in. She has a purpose. She wants to achieve it. She is ready to use everything she can to make people support her. She demonstrates how weak and unstable society can be and how one personal female desire can change the lives of many people in a moment.


Miller, A. (n.d.). The crucible. Web.

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