Gender Expectations In The Crucible

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There has always been expectations within society for individuals to follow strict gender roles. Women are expected to acted in feminine ways, while men are expected to be masculine. Arthur Miller’s The Crucible explores the idea of what happens when gender roles are not strictly adhered to. This play takes place in Salem, Massachusetts in the year of 1692. During this time, young girls had expectations and limits to what they could do within society and had limited power because of this. One of these girls, Abigail, goes against these limits and expectations by acting in masculine ways. The unfeminine ways in which Abigail acts leads her and the rest of the young women to gain power within Salem, with her as the most powerful. This gain in …show more content…
During her time with the Proctor family, she began an affair with John Proctor. His wife, Elizabeth Proctor, soon finds out about it and fired Abigail. This leads Abigail to become angry with Elizabeth, as she believes Elizabeth stands in the way of what she wants, a relationship with John. This anger serves as the motivation for Abigail’s actions throughout the rest of the play. Abigail’s, “...illegitimate desire for Proctor fuels her actions against innocent townspeople” (Bovard, 82). Abigail exhibits her masculine traits when she enters a relationship with John. Women, during this time, were meant to only cater to the wants and needs of other people, not their own. For that reason, Abigail is masculine for entering a relationship with John, as she is actively pursuing her own desires. If she had not acted in this way, Abigail would never have become angry with Elizabeth and would, therefore, never have the motivation to start the witch …show more content…
Her masculinity is first revealed during her affair with John Proctor, as she not only acted on her desires, she was also willing to murder Elizabeth Proctor in order to get what she wants. She then convinces the entire town that witchcraft is taking place in the village in order to avoid blame for Betty’s mysterious illness. She goes on to accuse more women, specifically Elizabeth Proctor, in the hopes that she can continue her affair with her husband. All of this shows the manipulative, calculating part of Abigail’s personality. This, in turn, shows her masculinity, as these behaviors are not how women are expected to act. This shows that Abigail’s masculinity directly resulted in the witch trials, and all of the deaths that came from them. However, Abigail’s behaviors show an underlying problem of Salem Village. Young girls had many restrictions on what they could do in society and how they could act. More specifically, they were expected to place the wants and needs of others above their own. If these restrictions weren’t there, Abigail may have been able to go after her desires in less lethal ways. Without these expectations, the events that led to the witch trials may have never happened, and all of the victims that were put to death may have still been

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