‘The Crucible’ is a fascinating play that draws parallels between the climate of fear and paranoia surrounding the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s and the political fear of the spread of Communism in the mid-20th Century. Read the Act One Summary of Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible below.
ACT ONE SUMMARY – THE CRUCIBLE
- In Reverend Parris’ home, his daughter Betty has been bedridden with a mysterious illness – she is in an unconscious, catatonic state.
- The night before this happened, Parris saw Betty along with his niece Abigail, his slave Tituba, and several other girls dancing naked in the woods.
- Mr and Mrs Putnam arrive and confirm that their daughter Ruthy is in the same state.
- Abigail warns Mary Warren and Mercy Lewis not to admit that they were casting spells in the woods. Betty wakes up. Abigail says that she drank blood to cast a spell on Goody Proctor, John Proctor’s wife. Betty falls unconscious again.
- It is revealed that John Proctor and Abigail had an affair, while she was working as a servant in the Proctors’ household. Elizabeth found out, and fired Abigail, with Mary Warren becoming the new servant. Abigail tries to seduce Proctor further, but he resists her.
- Rebecca Nurse treats Betty and warns Reverend Parris that talk of witchcraft could cause problems within the community.
- Putnam, Proctor and Giles Corey get into several disputes: one with Reverend Parris about his wealth, another about land rights in the town.
- Reverend Hale arrives as an expert investigator, to look into the allegations of witchcraft in Salem. He conducts a series of preliminary enquiries and learns that Tituba admits to seeing the Devil, and Abigail admits that she did too – Betty wakes up and she and Abigail start accusing others of also being with the Devil in the woods.