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 from Abigail comes at
the end of Act I, after the slave-girl Tituba has confessed to witchcraft.
Abigail spent the first act worrying desperately about the possibility
of being disgraced for having cast charms with her friends in the
forest. Tituba’s confession, however, offers an example of a way
out, and Abigail takes it. She “confesses” to consorting with the
Devil, which, according to the theology of Salem, means that she
is redeemed and free from guilt. Then, as the next step in absolving
herself of sin, she accuses others of being witches, thus shifting
the burden of shame from her shoulders to those she names. Seeing
Abigail’s success, the other girls follow suit, and with this pattern
of hysterical, self-serving accusations, the witch trials get underway.