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.