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At the end of the play, when Abigail realizes that her plan has failed and that she has condemned Proctor to hang, she displays the same cold indifference that governs her actions throughout the play.She flees Salem, leaving Proctor without so much as a second glance.
But even on paper it is more than a “demonstration.” Part of the moral beauty of the play is its alertness to the ambiguities of blame for those charges: Does the trouble begin with Abigail Williams, the precocious 17-year-old caught dancing in the woods with four other girls in a manner the Puritans consider prima facie diabolical?
However, she possesses shrewd insight and a capacity for strategy that reveal maturity beyond that of most other characters.
Declaring witchcraft provides her with instant status and recognition within Salem, which translates into power.
According to one survey of high-school lit teachers, The Crucible by Arthur Miller is the most widely taught play, outside of Shakespeare, in American classrooms.
(A Raisin in the Sun and Death of a Salesman follow.) Given the way it’s almost universally presented — as a point-by-point mapping of the Mc Carthy “witch hunts” of the 1940s and ’50s onto the actual witch trials of Puritan Salem in 1692 — it’s probably received by most students, no less than by most theater critics, as cod-liver oil, more medicinal than entertaining.