by Arthur Miller
The Crucible Act One Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
Citations follow this format: (Act.Line). Every time a character talks counts as one line, even if what they say turns into a long monologue.
ABIGAIL: Gah! I'd almost forgot how strong you are, John Proctor!
PROCTOR, looking at Abigail now, the faintest suggestion of a knowing smile on his face: What's this mischief here?
ABIGAIL, with a nervous laugh: Oh, she's only gone silly somehow.
PROCTOR: The road past my house is a pilgrimage to Salem all morning. The town's mumbling witchcraft.
ABIGAIL: Oh, posh! Winningly she comes a little closer, with a confidential, wicked air. We were dancin' in the woods last night, and my uncle leaped in on us. She took fright, is all.
PROCTOR, his smile widening: Ah, you're wicked yet, aren't y'! (A trill of expectant laughter escapes her, and she dares come closer, feverishly looking into his eyes.) You'll be clapped in the stocks before you're twenty.
He takes a step to go, and she springs into his path.
ABIGAIL: Give me a word, John. A soft word. Her concentrated desire destroys his smile)
PROCTOR: No, no, Abby. That's done with.
We learn that both Abigail and John have told lies: they have deceived people about their (past) relationship, and they continue to lie about it. But to this person who knows her deception, Abigail tells the truth that she was dancing in the woods and Betty took fright. However, she doesn’t tell him that she drank a potion so that his wife Elizabeth might die.
ABIGAIL, pulling her away from the window: I told him everything; he knows now, he knows everything we-
BETTY: You drank blood, Abby! You didn't tell him that!
ABIGAIL: Betty, you never say that again! You will never-
BETTY: You did, you did! You drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife! You drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor!
ABIGAIL, smashes her across the face: Shut it! Now shut it!
BETTY, collapsing on the bed): Mama, Mama! She dissolves into sobs.
ABIGAIL: Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam's dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. And you know I can do it; I saw Indians smash my dear parents' heads on the pillow next to mine, and I have seen some reddish work done at night, and I can make you wish you had never seen the sun go down! She goes to Betty and roughly sits her up. Now, you-sit up and stop this!
But Betty collapses in her hands and lies inert on the bed. (I.113-132)
We learn the true motives behind Abigail’s actions, even as she tries to get the girls to agree on a story to protect herself. She uses the threat of violence, and their belief that she might know some real witchcraft, to keep them in line.