What Happened to Abigail Williams - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  698 Words
Date:  2022-08-17


Abigail Williams was 12 years old in January 1962 when she started showing strange behavior (Brooks 1). Many people believe that she was an orphan and that is the reason why she stayed with her uncle Samuel Parris who was a Reverend in Salem (Brooks 1). Abigail and her cousin Betty were the first to start exhibiting strange behavior. The two girls would occasionally scream as if they were in enormous pain (Brooks 1) During other times they would have fits and also complain of being pinched by invisible spirits (Brooks 1). As their condition worsened, they started running towards fires with the intention of throwing themselves inside. They would also run to the back of their house in an attempt to try and climb up the chimney. In some other occasions they would stretch out their hands and make sounds as if they were flying (Brooks 1).

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Reverend Parris became concerned about the condition that his daughter and niece were in and decided to call in a doctor to examine them. The doctor's prognosis revealed that they were perfectly healthy and the only reason that could explain their behavior could be demon possession (Brooks 1). The rhetoric of demon possession started the what came to be known as the Salem Witch Trials. Abigail was one of the lead accusers, and she went on to accuse seventeen members of her community and even attended the trial of eight of the community members who she accused (Stanley 1).

What could have caused her strange behavior? Did the devil possess her? To the people of that time, possession by the devil would have been the most convenient answer given that medical knowledge at the time was still very basic. It was also a time when superstition and witchcraft was common and could be easily believed due to the lack of adequate scientific knowledge to explain certain occurrences.

I, however, believe that Abigail was not demon possessed and the subsequent accusations that she made were false and were primarily based on the superstitious beliefs present at the time and partly due to vengeance. For instance, I believe one of the primary reasons why she accused Tituba of being a witch is the fact that she was a West Indian Slave. Her skin color may have convinced Abigail (who at the time was not mentally fit) that Tituba must have been a witch. What else would explain her different skin color to a young mentally unstable girl? Some of the historians believe that She accused Elizabeth Proctor of witchcraft because she was in love with Elizabeth's husband and that she wanted her executed so that she would marry her husband (Brooks 1). It may be a far-fetched idea, I, however, believe that she may have chose Elizabeth because she had dismissed her from her position as a servant in her house. Abigail also accused John Proctor of witchcraft, and I agree with some of the historians that she accused John because he strongly criticized their behavior, often describing them as "liars who should be whipped for lying" (Brooks 1).

Her false accusations, however, does not falsify her actions. I believe that she had schizophrenia. The symptoms that she exhibited are known to appear between the ages of 13 and 25. People who have schizophrenia (like her and her cousin) cannot determine whether the things that are taking place around them are real or not. Most of the time, they are either having paranoia or just hallucinating (Mayo Clinic 1). At times, patients who have schizophrenia become delusional and make incoherent speeches (Mayo Clinic 1). Abigail showed all the above characteristics during the time of the trials. I can, therefore, say that she was just a depressed young girl who has schizophrenia. It is therefore very unfortunate that were many people convicted of witchcraft primarily because of the testimonies of this young girl.

Works Cited

Brooks, Rebecca. "Abigail Williams: The Mysterious Afflicted Girl." History Of Massachusetts, 2015, http://historyofmassachusetts.org/abigail-williams-salem/. Accessed 2 Oct 2018.

Mayo Clinic. "Schizophrenia - Symptoms And Causes." Mayo Clinic, 2018, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/symptoms-causes/syc-20354443. Accessed 2 Oct 2018.

Stanley, Tim. "Satan, Starvation, And A Powerful Obsession With Evil: What Happened In Salem?". The Telegraph, 2016, https://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/the-witch/salem-puritans-magic-true-story/. Accessed 2 Oct 2018.

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What Happened to Abigail Williams - Essay Sample. (2022, Aug 17). Retrieved from https://midtermguru.com/essays/what-happened-to-abigail-williams-essay-sample

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