ACT 1 – Scene 3
Still in Betty’s room, John Proctor arrives and he is alone with Abigail.
Proctor suspects that Abigail is responsible for Betty’s illness, or as he
calls it “this mischief”. Abigail tries to put on an air of innocence saying that the girls were merely dancing. Abigail accuses Proctor of coming here just to see her, but he denies this.
Abigail wishes to rekindle the affair.
She feels that he would love her if Elizabeth, his wife, weren’t in the way.
Proctor is attracted to Abigail because she does not adhere to the Puritan
Abigail takes the opportunity to establish Proctor’s feelings for her whilst
they are alone and Betty sleeps.
It has been seven months since their affair, and Abigail’s feelings for
Proctor have not diminished.
The audience realises the contrasts between Abigail and Elizabeth Proctor,
although they have not seen the latter character yet. They only know about her through her reputation. She is viewed as a woman of high morals. In contrast, Abigail is in Puritanical terms, a loose
woman. She seduced Proctor and in addition to this she indulges in extreme activities, and would wish to commune with the devil if this were possible. In any event, her actions will have evil
Abigail makes no attempt to suppress her desires. She wishes to
possess Proctor and she will achieve this through any means.
She initially possessed him through seduction, but this was only temporary, and she now hopes to possess him by manipulating others and terrorising her unwitting accomplices.
Her one weakness is her feelings for John Proctor.
It is clear that Proctor does not fully agree with the Puritan way, but he
recognises that his wife is a genuinely good person and he is determined to remain loyal to her despite his lapse into sin.
One of the other storylines in the play is Proctor’s attempt to understand
himself and the aims of the Puritan society.
It is not clear whether Proctor appreciates Abigail’s total wickedness, and
he may consider himself partly to blame for his own seduction. He is probably not experienced regarding a woman who lusts after him.