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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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I want to open myself! I want the light of God, I want the sweet
love of Jesus! I danced for the Devil; I saw him; I wrote in his
book; I go back to Jesus; I kiss His hand. I saw Sarah Good with
the Devil! I saw Goody Osburn with the Devil! I saw Bridget
Bishop with the Devil!

What are we to make of this? In this case we have a lot more to
go on than we did with Tituba. Abigail's been on stage since the
beginning of the act; by now we know her better than anyone
else. We've seen her change her story for each new person she's
told it to, we've seen her consistently shift blame onto others,
we've heard her threaten the other girls with "a pointy
reckoning," and we know she hates Goody Proctor. It's doubtful
that she actually saw the Devil: earlier, when Proctor said the
town's "mumbling witchcraft," her response was a
contemptuous, "Oh, posh!"

But throughout this scene Tituba's been getting all the attention,
and maybe Abigail just wants a little for herself. Like a child
trying for the grownups' approval, she pipes up, "I did it too! I
did it too!"

Her long silence during Tituba's confession may, however, have
a more sinister explanation. She knows now what "pretense"
Salem is, and she sees a chance to pay back the hypocrisy of "all
these Christian women and their covenanted men" with a
monstrous trick. Tituba just got away with a vicious attack on
her uncle; might not Abigail be able to do the same with her
enemies? All she has to do is "confess" and anything she says
will be believed. The temptation for revenge is too irresistible.

But let's not get carried away in making Abigail the villain of
this piece. Remember the atmosphere in the room, remember
how frightened they all are. Tituba has just been released from a
crushing burden of guilt. Abigail, too, has sinned, and she
knows it. Whatever she does later, at this moment she may long
fervently for "the light of God" and "the sweet love of Jesus."

However you interpret Abigail's confession, it does bring Betty
back to life. Hale is jubilant: "Glory to God! It is broken, they
are free!" As Putnam rushes out to summon the marshal, Hale
shouts above the din, "Let the marshal bring irons!"

The madness has begun.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes

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