There be no blush about my name…[Elizabeth Proctor] hates me, uncle, she must, for I would not be her slave. It’s a bitter woman, a lying, cold, sniveling woman, and I will not work for such a woman!
Abigail snaps this line at her uncle, the Reverend Parris, early in the first act of the play. Parris has questioned her about the rumors going around Salem that she somehow behaved improperly while employed as a maid at the Proctors’ farm. Abigail denies she has done anything wrong and blames Elizabeth entirely. Readers will soon learn that Abigail did have an affair with John Proctor, but this moment shows how much Abigail hates Elizabeth Proctor as well as her willingness to lie.
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!
Halfway through the first act, Arthur Miller gives us a brief scene of John Proctor and Abigail together, revealing they have had a sexual affair. Abigail is still in love with John, and wants to believe that he is still in love with her (even after he says he is not). The actions Abigail takes against Elizabeth are the result of her obsession.
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!
This outburst arrives at the end of Act I, after Tituba, Rev. Parris’s slave, has confessed to witchcraft. Abigail sees Tituba’s false confession as a way out of her own dilemma: if she also admits she’s a witch, she will be forgiven for casting charms in the woods with Tituba and her friends. Thus, she falsely confesses to witchcraft. Abigail’s so-called confession begins the long series of events that will lead to Abigail condemning both the Proctors to death.
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