I look for John Proctor that took me from my sleep and put knowledge in my heart! I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons I was taught by all these Christian women and their covenanted men! And now you bid me tear the light out of my eyes? I will not, I cannot! You loved me, John Proctor, and whatever sin it is, you love me yet!
Abigail Williams utters these words in an Act I conversation with John Proctor, clueing the audience in to her past affair with him. For Proctor, we quickly realize, their relationship belongs to the past—while he may still be attracted to her, he is desperately trying to put the incident behind him. Abigail, on the other hand, has no such sense of closure, as this quote makes clear. As she begs him to come back to her, her anger overflows, and we see the roots of what becomes her targeted, destructive romp through Salem. First, there is her jealousy of Elizabeth Proctor and her fantasy that if she could only dispose of Elizabeth, John would be hers. But second, and perhaps more important, we see in this quotation a fierce loathing of the entire town—“I never knew what pretense Salem was, I never knew the lying lessons. . . .” Abigail hates Salem, and in the course of The Crucible, she makes Salem pay.