May the Best Woman Win

Discuss the ideas developed by the text creator in your chosen text about the role kindness plays when individuals attempt to determine their own destiny. (January 2014)


The desire for control over one’s destiny is not uncommon especially when one feels trapped within social stratifications; in order to attain full control, however, one must discontinue any kindness in them and take on an air of callousness instead. The same is true in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible as the young Abigail Williams’ attempts at self-determination are contrasted by Elizabeth Proctor’s life of amiable submission. Both of them living in a conservative, Puritan society ruled entirely by men would, conventionally, have their destinies determined by those deemed wiser than either of them. However, due to Abigail’s defiant, strong-willed nature, she is able to disrupt the gender roles set forth in her society as a means of developing a life of her own; she must, however, lead a malicious life without regard of her impact on others in order to do so. Abigail’s character foil is Elizabeth as she lives the life of a kind, loyal Salemite wife whose life is determined greatly by the will and actions of the men around her. Ergo, Miller suggests a kind individual leaves themself vulnerable to the control of others as they are incapable of taking the necessary steps toward the attaining of the destiny they desire; hence, cruelty becomes a strength.


In order to defy societal expectations, there is a necessary degrading of the system set in place regardless of the individuals who may act as obstacles. A similar mindset would have been adopted by Abigail William as an adolescent teen in a strictly regimented society knowing her life path would be a result of the men in her life; her subtle yet fervent acts of defiance were necessary steps in the furthering of her decided destiny. Though her resistance was impressive, there was an avarice required in her character in order for her acts to be fruitful. This is seen as she pursues an adulterous affair with John Proctor without regard for the emotional strain it would have on him or his wife. The only thing considered was her pleasure. In a sense, the fact she was the one to seduce him was remarkable as through it she was pursuing her desired destiny despite the expectation for women to be coy and wait on men to approach first. That being said, the immorality of her action and apathy required to act depicts her malice whilst constructing her destiny. Her cruel actions serve as evidence in support of the thought an oppressed individual must act without consideration for others in order to create a destiny of their own choosing. Her callousness is further depicted as she orders the executions of innocent societal outcasts in order to perpetuate the idea of her divine insight as to the witchcraft occurring in Salem. An integral part of her destiny was the appeasing of her every desire; ergo, her desire for the thrill that came with such power needed to be met. So much so, it drove her to the point of inhumanity. Her willingness to disregard the lives of others as collateral damage in order to disrupt gender stratification, as she was now a woman in power, illustrates when aching for control over one’s life, one becomes apathetic and, in turn, disregards the value of the well being of others. With all this, it is evident Abigail’s command over her fate was one that would have shocked many Salemites as she was disrupting the roles set in place; in order to do this, however, her every action had to be guided by cruel intent. Ergo, Abigail’s defiance exemplifies the idea that a defiant individual, when led to believe they must compromise their ideal life, will disregard the beliefs of others and continue to pursue their future harming whoever stands in their way.


In order to be well-liked within a society one must abide by the rules and expectations set in place; however, in the upkeep of a kind persona, one sacrifices their autonomy. Just is the case with Elizabeth Proctor as, in contrast to Abigail Williams, she had no sovereignty over her destiny and would never be able to change that fact due to the hindering kindness found within her nature. She was a loyal, loving woman – a typical Salemite wife of the time – and, as a result, the course of her life was led by the men around her. Seen in her continued loyalty and love of John Proctor, despite his affair, Elizabeth inevitably was going to lead the life of a neglected housewife because of her inability to speak out against John in the moments where she felt wronged. Unlike Abigail, she could not make her feelings known when events did not coincide with her happiness; thus, sealing her fate. When taken into consideration alongside Abigail’s pursuit of destiny, it grows evident that a kind individual leaves their destiny under the power of others as they are incapable of asserting their position. Moreover, Elizabeth’s unwavering kindness inhibited her from speaking against her husband’s character even if it would have meant freedom for all who were accused to be witches from Abigail’s reign of terror; the thought never crossed her mind. When asked whether or not her husband had an affair Elizabeth was unable to act against her kind nature and lied thinking she was being merciful by preserving her husband’s reputation. Unlike Abigail who was able to disregard the value of a human life, Elizabeth was not able to put her desire for freedom above the perceived needs of her husband. Elizabeth’s martyr-like selflessness shows an exceptionally kind individual is incapable of putting their needs above the needs of others; hence, their inaction acts as a hindrance to the attaining of their desired destiny. While Abigail is able to act as harshly as she may need to lead the life she desires, Elizabeth leaves herself trapped in the gender roles set before her due to her kindness. The contrast between these two women is of the utmost importance as it illustrates kindness as a drawback and apathy as a necessity in the pursuit of one’s destiny.


The longing for autonomy over one’s fate is to be anticipated when one has been controlled for an extended period of time; without a vicious nature, however, one may find themselves incapable of acting as necessary. Miller, through his development of Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor as contrasting characters, supports this notion. Moreover, he proves a strong-willed individual determined to create their own despite societal expectations must act with a cold nature for without it their humanity will begin to act as an obstruction.


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6 thoughts on “Control

  1. Dear Ibukun,

    Despite never having read Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” I was nevertheless intrigued by the ideas that you set forth in this piece. The idea that kindness can be a hindrance to the attainment of one’s destiny is an interesting notion, one that truly forces an individual to decide whether or not to pursue selflessness and virtue at the cost of their self-independence. Truly makes you think, doesn’t it?

    In terms of improvement, there were some minor mistakes peppered throughout the piece; however, these were so small that they took nothing away from the ideas that you effectively explored. Some things to just watch out for include apostrophes in possessives (“due to Abigail[‘s] defiant, strong-willed nature”), proper conjugations (“in turn, disregard[s] the value”), spelling (“her life was lead by the men”), and the use of semi-colons to separate two independent clauses (“happiness; thus, sealing her fate.”). I also know that the word “that” is often unnecessary; however, adding it in some sentences often makes it flow much more nicely (“the idea [that] a defiant individual” / “illustrates [that] when aching” / “grows evident [that] a kind individual”). I also encourage you to use direct quotes from the play. Some of these suggestions are, however, are only formed from my opinion and the integrity of the piece remains intact regardless of whether many of these changes are implemented!

    All in all, I quite enjoyed your piece! It was very insightful, especially to me (one who has never read the play), and for taking a risk in straying from the initially-then-finally format and contrasting two characters, I commend you! It offered a refreshing perspective on the role kindness plays in determining one’s destiny, and I must say that I found a lot of things relatable in what you wrote. Kindness sometimes does act as a hindrance to achieving personal desires, but it does beg the question of how far we are willing to go in terms of allowing external influences in our lives. However, I might just go read Miller’s play in order to get the full extent of what you have discussed! 😉

    Once again, amazing work! You are quite a brilliant writer and I hope you keep it up! You have allowed me to explore ideas beyond the scope of what I have read, especially in regards to both the benefits and downsides to kindness in the context of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible”. In a world so devoid of it, however, I think that kindness – despite its tendency of being a hindrance to personal desire – is necessary for a brighter and better tomorrow. After all, there are people in our lives worth sacrificing for (not sacrificing the people themselves, but you know what I mean…). Here’s to a kinder world!

    Ever yours,

    1. Dearest Jieo,
      Thank you for taking the time out of your day to read my critical and leave such a kind comment – ’twas most certainly appreciated. I am glad that I was able to encourage some pondering on the necessity of kindness *finger guns*.

      As far as your improvements go I will be sure to fix up my essay accordingly – GUMPS will be the bane of my existence *shakes fists angrily*

      Thanks again for reading and commenting! Some people are certainly worth sacrificing for (yes, I know what you mean) but to what extent?


  2. Dearest Ibukun,

    I commend you for attempting a different approach to the traditional “initially, then, and finally” essay structure. I remember when I attempted to try this last year and lets just say, this blog was what I wanted it to look (my ideals), and rather the reality of things is that my essay really fell short. Anyhow, this is about you:

    For one that has not read “The Crucible” (or at least not finished it, I read 4 pages oops), your introduction paragraph really informs the reader a thorough explanation of not only the book, but also of the characters you are to discuss. I think that picking this format worked in your favour for the comparison of the two characters solidified your connection to the prompt. By using Abigail’s character foil, Elizabeth, to contrast each other allows a deep insight as to ones fate, and how this fate is determined. In other words, by comparing Abigail’s “defiant, strong-willed nature” to contrast Elizabeth’s “kind, loyal” personality, you showed how the “kind” character can often times leave oneself vulnerable to others more dominate power, which therefore shows that being cruel is a “strength” or how you worded it, “a kind individual leaves them self vulnerable to the control of others as they are incapable of taking the necessary steps toward the attaining of the destiny they desire; hence, cruelty becomes a strength.” Personally, I believe that this essay was really well done. I am really proud of you for taking a step out of the box and trying something new!

    I only have two small things for improvement: firstly, I think the first sentence, “The desire for control over one’s destiny is not uncommon especially when one feels trapped within social stratification’s; in order to attain full control, however, one must discontinue any kindness in them and take on an air of callousness instead” has really concrete and solid ideas but I think it could use some rewording to make the flow better. Secondly, I would just add more length to the conclusion for it’d deliver a more “full-circle” ending. Nevertheless, your piece has really inspired me to one day try out this format again, after my previous attempt and fail at this structure!



    1. Dearest Judy,
      Thank you for taking the time to read my essay and leave such a great comment! SO so grateful. Thank you for commending me (is that how one words that sort of thank you?) for my efforts, I am sure that you can for sure write a killer FOIL essay no problemo! I have the utmost faith in you and your writing ability and look forward to being able to read one of Miss. Gu’s very own compare and contrast essays. 😉 I am really happy that you enjoyed the essay & I encourage you to continue reading the play. Once you get past page 5 it truly does get much better. 🙂

      As far as your edits go I will look into both of those and take some time rewording and editing my essay to see if I could spice it up a little. I really appreciate your suggestions and will not take them lightly.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting – very appreciative.


  3. Dearest Ibukun,

    This was amazing! I have never actually read a compare and contrast essay, and after reading yours it really sparked something inside me. I know they are cautioned against for diplomas but hey, I’m done my now so YOLO. In all seriousness though, I loved the style of this essay girl. Not only was it simple (which I sincerely appreciated with my simple mind), but there was also such expert understanding of The Crucible within your mean and matter. This essay resembles the way I would write an AP exam and it really reminded me of the ones I wrote on my exam last year. I want to commend you on taking this risk and trying this style out because it certainly takes guts. You are a spontaneous gal and I expect nothing less of you. As much as I want to be surprised by this choice, I read the intro and was like, “yup, this sure is Ibukun,” so good job girl you go.

    As for improvements, I would recommend the expected note about compare and contrast essays – I think this piece needs a little bit more. I’ve heard of a form of compare and contrast where 4 paragraphs are written; the first two being the compare where we see the “initially”, and the last two being the contrast of two characters in the “finally” stage of the text. I think that if you perhaps tried this approach in your next essays you may cover more topics and therefore make the piece more coherent and complex. This piece was great in its ideas but due to the two generalized paragraphs, I think we just lost some important ideas and quotations that would maybe fit better in a four body paragraph essay – however that is just a humble opinion love!

    This was such a risk and I loved it. I thought it was effective and bold and beautiful and all of the other things you stand for so, thank you for teaching me something new today! Love you!


    1. Dearest Yas,
      Thank you for taking the time out of your surely hectic grade 12 schedule to read and comment on my blog! I am so grateful for your kind words & am overjoyed that you were able to enjoy it (wouldn’t want you to have to read it and be bored). *awkward nervous giggle* You thinking I am spontaneous means a lot; it’s not a word I would really use to categorize myself but, hey, if you see it in me, I’ll take the compliment in stride.

      Regarding your suggestions for improvement, I totally agree! After stepping away from it for a little while and re-reading it, it did feel a little lacking. I think that if I were to add two more body paragraphs (or even one) I would be able to dive into a further understanding of the characters and the text. Thank you for your critic, I will be sure to keep that in mind with my future ~risky~ endeavours.

      Thank you again for reading and commenting.


      P.S. “effective and bold and beautiful” – you’re really gassing me up, awe shucks!

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