The Crucible is play that helps to show human nature through a series of events linked through the Salem witch trials. In this play, a group of young teenagers would undermine the religious government and make a mockery of the Salem judicial system. Miller also shows human nature through the development of characters. Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor are foils of each other and have many differences; they would also develop many similar traits.
One of the main links between the two women is their love for John Proctor. This would create much animosity between the two women and would lead to much strife between the two. While Abigail Williams saw Elizabeth Proctor as an old witch that only wished to blacken her name to the community, Elizabeth saw Abigail as a whore that only wished to steal her husband away. I am convinced that Abigail's beauty and youth also served to create a hostile atmosphere as Elizabeth is threatened by this. Another reason that Elizabeth is threatened by Abigail is the fact that she believes that Abigail still has feelings for her husband. Even though Elizabeth eventually comes to the realization that her husband has no feelings for Abigail, she continues to hold on to the notion that they did share something, which becomes evident when John Proctor is forced to state "Then how do you charge me with such a promise? The promise that a stallion gives a mare I gave that girl!" (Miller 197).
This quote suggests that Elizabeth proctor is still suspicious that Abigail Williams is still a presence in their household. Their differences would also become evident when Abigail William goes on her path of vengeance. This trait becomes evident as Abigail Williams does whatever it takes to get her name cleared, including lie or commit murder. She then accuses Elizabeth of being a witch in an attempt to take her bed from her.
Elizabeth, however, becomes the light of reason and sanity as she refuses to judge her husband, even to save his life. She knows that her husband is a good person and refuses to take that away from him. This was a very different view as compared to Abigail. Abigail held on to the notion that John Proctor would choose to run away and be with her instead. Wherein Abigail Williams had a somewhat weak background and character, which fed off of the fears of others, Elizabeth Proctor has a relatively strong character. Elizabeth refused to surrender her beliefs in the face of hardships, whereas Abigail would abandon her beliefs in order to save herself.
Although Elizabeth spoke on the side of truth, Abigail would be the one that is believed because of her ability to change her belief to feed off of the fears of the community, a very powerful tool in puritan Salem. Both characters had some characteristics that were shared, but were opposites in much more. While Elizabeth Proctor symbolized the basic good of the human nature, Abigail Williams showed the darker side of human nature. Both Elizabeth Proctor and Abigail Williams would partly develop because of the other, and would become the opposition of each other from the middle to the end of the play.