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John Proctor & Abigail Williams Affair

Write down the significance of John and Abigails affair in relation to the rest of the narrative. What function does it serve in Millers narrative?
John and Abigails affair is the driving force of The Crucible used to intensify the drama and tension between characters and to portray how destructive a characters motivation can be. Millers initial description of Abigail is of a beautiful girl, who at start seems pure and innocent. But as the actions in Act 1 unfold, Abigails repressed desires and her willingness to get what she wants becomes clear. Abigails affair with Proctor becomes apparent with the duologue at the end of Act 1 between the two characters. There is a sense of longing that can be traced from Abigails words and they foreshadow a more intimate feeling. Proctor however, is reluctant to even touch her and admits to his sin of adultery and makes clear that he wants to be a part of it no more. Abigails character is independent and manipulative, and with a lack of conscience to keep herself in check (as is common of teenagers) she sees no folly in her affair with Proctor. This mindset leads her to believe that Elizabeth Proctor is preventing her from being with Proctor. Her obsession with lust makes her oversee that Proctor himself has pulled the plug on their relationship. Abigail gives definitive meaning to the phrase, all is fair in love and war. Her strategy is to gain the trust of the court and then to eliminate Elizabeth. She starts by coldly accusing carefully selected individuals to a death sentence. She acts as an official of the court wherein she pretends to be a medium to determine whether the accused is a witch or not. Such is the height of her desire for Proctor that she sees the murder of innocents as a means to an end, an end that she believes will provide her lifelong happiness. Millers description of both characters, John Proctor in particular, also presents to the audience an understanding of the superstitions and politics in Salem. This allows Miller to opine on the Puritanical social restrictions, which he uses to compare the past and present (which is the age of McCarthyism). There is a similarity to both time periods, which for me is best displayed at the end of the whole play. Abigails fleeing without as much as a last glance at Proctor displays her cold indifference similar to that of Danforth and possibly Senator McCarthy.

Explain why Miller chose to alter the ages of the real John Proctor and Abigail Williams and to create the affair that occurs in The Crucible.
The real age gap between the two characters was so vast that any form of relationship between the two would have been highly unlikely. Especially taking into Abigails real age of just 11, one can easily understand why Miller would add a few more years to make the affair more credible and to explain the driving force behind her (teenage) mind. Abigails slyness and cunning ability to manipulate also requires a certain level of maturity and there is a minimum age before that happens. Miller also reduced Proctors age because the chances of a man in his middle ages cheating on his wife is more likely.