Elizabeth Proctor Character Traits Comparing with Abigail Williams

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Elizabeth Proctor Character Traits Comparing with Abigail Williams

This essay compares and contrasts the character traits of Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible.” It examines Elizabeth’s integrity, moral strength, and resilience against Abigail’s deceit, manipulation, and vindictiveness. The piece highlights how their contrasting characters and motivations play a pivotal role in the unfolding of the Salem witch trials, reflecting broader themes of truth, justice, and morality in the play. On PapersOwl, there’s also a selection of free essay templates associated with Fiction.

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In The Crucible, the juxtaposed characters Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor are foils to each other. While these two women’s roles are similar in their relation to John Proctor, Miller also contrasts them in three major ways: social position, activity or passivity of character, and morality. Presented in contrasts, these three central themes are emphasized to illustrate the several factors at play in the events of the Salem witch trials.


Exploration of the Social Backgrounds and Standing of Abigail and Elizabeth

Elizabeth is a mainly passive character, while Abigail is, at times, the sole aggressor within the events of The Crucible.

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Firstly, even the background information that sets the scene – the driving friction between Elizabeth and Abigail that leads to accusations of witchcraft- wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Abigail’s affair with John Proctor. In Act 1, Abigail gets Betty to rise “from the bed, a fever in her eyes…” and chant falsehoods about other women in front of Putman and Parris (Miller, 44). From then on, she controls the village in a puppeteer’s display of manipulation, rumoring, and false accusations. All along, the unsuspecting Elizabeth Proctor is concerned with her domestic affair and has no involvement until her accusation. When given a chance to give her intervening word in her husband’s fate, she remains passive: “I do not judge you. The magistrate sits in your heart that judges you. I never thought you but a good man, John – only somewhat bewildered.” (Miller 55).

A second significant difference is that Abigail and Elizabeth come from differing social standpoints -The details of which set the stage for envy and vengeance that took place in The Crucible-. Elizabeth has a homestead, a husband, and essentially, more reputation in Salem to lose. Abigail is just a 17-year-old girl, young and unmarried- yet able to tempt John Proctor- Abigail attends church every day, keeping up with her Puritan image. However, she has conveniently driven Elizabeth to seldom attend. Because Abigail was allied with the other servant girls, she had a way of indirectly corrupting Proctor’s home. Abigail corrupts Mary to give Elizabeth the voodoo doll in order to have Elizabeth arrested under the pretext of taking her place as John’s wife.

Recapitulation of the Contrasting Character Traits of Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor

When the opportunity presented itself, the details came together, and it was all easy for Abigail to convict Elizabeth of witchcraft. John Proctor desperately tried to expose Abigail Williams as a fraud without leaking the news of their affair. When Abigail and the girls deny Mary Warren’s testimony in order to have Elizabeth hang, John Proctor leaps up at Abigail and tells the court, “She thinks to dance with me on my wife’s grave!” (Miller 110). The two women maintain this division to the end, Elizabeth maintaining composure and Abigail always preserving her role as the persecutor.


Finally, in comparison to Abigail, who has become morally corrupt, Elizabeth Proctor represents the social and moral standards and expectations of the setting. She is a true Christian woman. While Abigail is exploiting the fears of Christianity for her own selfish desires, Elizabeth is on a more wholesome quest to fix her marriage. In the end, she is able to overcome John’s sin by allowing him to forgive himself, although Abigail encourages him to sin again the entire time. It is also worth noting that Elizabeth was said to have never lied; “In her life sir… my wife cannot lie” (Miller 103). When she finally disapproved of this sentiment, it was only with the intention of bailing out her husband (whom she actually condemned). At this point, the audience might look to Abigail and her long stream of lies against the people around her and judge one’s morals against another’s.

A village breaks out into hysteria, twenty people end up dead at the hands of Massachusetts, and two women caught up in the same love affair can be found at the heart of it all. The events of The Crucible demonstrate how a personal conflict can grow to touch a community and the impact we can choose to have on other people’s lives. Overall, the actions of Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor contribute to the play’s themes of morality and social standing and convey a message about those who attempt to trade one for the other.


  1. Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Books, 1996.


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Elizabeth Proctor Character Traits Comparing With Abigail Williams. (2023, Aug 03). Retrieved from https://papersowl.com/examples/elizabeth-proctor-character-traits-comparing-with-abigail-williams/