The Crucible Act 1 part 1 Summary

     This play by Arthur Miller is based on the actual events that happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692 focused on many of the real people involved in the accusations of witchcraft. The play begins at the house of Reverend Parris who is kneeling beside the bed of his daughter, Betty. His servant Tituba, whom he brought with him from Barbados, enters concerned about Betty. Clearly, something has happened to her. Abigail Williams, Betty's seventeen-year-old cousin, comes in to announce that Susanna Walcott, a girl of Abigail's age has arrived. Susanna tells Reverend Parris that the rumor in town is that Betty has been witched because the girls had done inappropriate things in the woods the night before. Abigail admits that she and her friends had been dancing in the woods, which is against Puritan law, but they did not do any spells or conjure spirits. It becomes clear that Reverend Parris is more concerned about his reputation in town than he should be considering his daughter is lying inert in bed. Parris tells Abigail that he saw someone run through the woods naked before he alerted them to his presence. He then questions Abigail's reputation in the town as she has recently been fired as an assistant to the Proctor family.

     Mr. and Mrs. Putnam arrive to announce that their daughter, Ruth, is acting the same way that Betty is. They confirm that Reverend Parris has sent for Reverend Hale in Beverly because he is known to be a witch expert. Mrs. Putnam tells them that she sent Tituba into the woods with Ruth that night to find out why Mrs. Putnam had eight babies who died before they were baptized. Reverend Parris is horrified that she would specifically ask Tituba to conjure spirits. Mercy Lewis, the Putnams' eighteen-year-old servant, comes in to talk to Abigail. Abigail encourages her uncle, Parris, to go down and pray with the adults, which gives her a chance to speak to Mercy alone. She tells Mercy that Parris knows that the girls were dancing, that Tituba tried to conjure Ruth's dead siblings, and that Mercy was naked. Mary Warren, the Proctor's new servant, arrives and tells the girls that they should confess. She says that they would only be whipped for dancing, but if people think they are witches, they could hang them. Abigail threatens to beat Betty in order to get her to wake up. She seems to know that Betty is faking this illness in order to gain sympathy and avoid being punished for her behavior the previous night in the woods.

     Mercy and Mary Warren leave when John Proctor walks in. He is the husband to Elizabeth and father of three boys. John currently has Mary Warren assist his family in a position that Abigail used to hold. It becomes clear that while she worked for him, Abigail and John had an affair. Abigail still has feelings for John and wants the relationship to continue, but he makes it clear that he regrets what they did and will not touch her again.

     These events parallel how the actual Salem Witch Trials began. The town of Salem had some troublesome (and bored) girls who wanted to avoid punishment, so they called out the names of people in town saying they were witches.

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