The Crucible Plot Summary
The play begins on Rev. Parris praying by the bedside of his daughter Betty who has turned strange overnight and will not wake. His niece Abigail enters and Parris believes he has seen her dancing in the forest and conjuring. Abigail fiercely denies conjuring but admits to harmless dancing. Mr and Mrs Putnam enter and are pleased that misfortune has befallen on Parris because they are jealous of him becoming minister over their own family. The Putnam’s compare Betty with their own daughter who has also fallen ill. Mrs Putnam believes the girls are not sick but it is ‘death drivin’ into them, forked and hoofed’. This raises the question of witchcraft. Abigail is left alone with Mercy Lewis (the Putnam’s servant), Marry Warren (the Proctor’s servant) and Betty. Abigail admits to other girls she confessed to dancing in the forest and that ‘He knows Tituba conjured Ruth’s sisters to come out of the grave’. The girls talk to each other and the truth is revealed that they were conjuring spirits and that Abigail drank blood to kill Goody Proctor. Abigail blackmails the other girls to keep it a secret with the threat that she will come and beat them otherwise. In class, we worked on Abigail’s pivotal speech to the other girls helping us to understand her actions and how her past; through watching her parents being killed affects her treatment of others. The other girls leave and John Proctor is left alone with Abigail. Through the following scene we find out that John and Abigail had an affair but John wishes now to deny his feelings for Abigail. She is very resentful of this and the scene turns angry. This helps the audience to understand the rationale behind Abigail’s actions and increases the depth of her character. Betty begins to scream again and Rebecca Nurse calms her. Through a conversation between Mr Putnam, Giles Corey and Proctor we learn more of a dispute over land. This helps to recreate a more genuine atmosphere to which the audience can believe. Hale (an educated witch finder) enters and admits ‘we cannot look to superstition for this’. Mrs Putnam mentions that Tituba is involved in witchcraft. Abigail is then questioned by Hale, The audience find out that there was movement in the kettle and the ground trembled whilst they were dancing. Abigail and Parris both agree to these suggestions because they hope that the suspicion will be lifted from them. Tituba enters and is interrogated, Abigail blames her for making her conjure spirits and the truth about drinking chicken blood and dancing over the fire is revealed. Mr Putnam threatens to have Tituba hung, as a result Tituba is horrified and confesses. Tituba recalls that the devil hates Mr Parris and appeared to her with Sarah Good and Goody Osborn. Abigail and Betty now become hysterical calling the names of other people such as Martha Bellows and Alice Barrow.
Act 2 is set sometime later in the common room of Proctor’s house. There is tension between John and his wife, Elizabeth in which they argue over the lack of trust in their marriage and Abigail Williams. It is revealed that fourteen people are to be hanged and that thirty-nine have been arrested. Mary Warren presents Goody Proctor with a poppet she has made for her. This helps the audience to see the change in time that has elapsed since Act 1. Proctor is annoyed that Mary Warren deceived him and went to court when she should have been working at home. Marry Warren reveals she is an ‘official of the court’. Proctor threatens to whip Mary but she stands up to him and discloses that she saved Elizabeth’s life in court today. Elizabeth has been accused but Mary will not disclose who has been the accuser. Elizabeth feels sure Abigail will proclaim her a witch and asks Proctor to tell Abigail he no longer feels for her. During a workshop, We worked on this conversation between Elizabeth and John. Instead of acting using the words on the page we spoke using each characters subtext. This helped us to see the problems within the marriage and understand each character to a greater level. Mr Hale enters and proceeds to question the couple. Hale admits to having to visit all the houses in the area to form a judgement on those who have been accused. Hale questions John over the Christian Character of the household. John blames his irregularity in church and the lack of baptism of his final son on the fact that he doesn’t trust Parris. Elizabeth and John and then questioned on their commandments but ironically John cannot remember ‘do not commit adultery’. Hale believes the Proctor’s are telling the truth but this is interrupted by Giles Corey’s + Francis Nurse’s entrances. Giles tells the Proctor’s that both his wife and Francis’s have been taken. Ezekial Cheever enters (a clerk of the court) his entrance is shortly followed by that of Marshall Herrick. Cheever has a warrant for the arrest of Elizabeth Proctor and is instructed to search the house for poppets. After questioning Elizabeth, Mary Warren is called for, to explain the finding of the poppet. The poppet has a needle inside and Cheever explains how Abigail Williams was found screaming after Goody Proctor’s spirit forced a needle into her stomach. Mary admits to making the poppet and giving this to Goody Proctor and claims she put the needle inside for safe keeping. She also claims that Abigail Williams saw her put the needle inside. Proctor rips Cheever’s warrant for the arrest of Elizabeth but shortly after, Elizabeth allows the men to take her away. When John and Mary are alone, John commands the court to tell the truth to free Elizabeth. Mary reminds John that if she were to tell the truth Abigail would command lechery upon him. John gets angry as Mary refuses to tell the truth and the scene ends on John trying to force her to tell.
The scene begins on Giles Corey being arrested, Frank and Giles try and convince the court that the girls are frauds. Mary Warren and Proctor enter and demand to speak to the Deputy Governor. Proctor tells the men that Mary has come to say she didn’t see any spirits. Mary Warren admits to this. Proctor admits that his main purpose in doing this is to free his wife. The court is reminded of Proctor’s lack of committal to the church. Danforth tells Proctor that Elizabeth is pregnant and will be saved for a year until she has delivered but only if Proctor drops the charge. After a moment of suspense, Proctor says he will not drop the charge regardless of this news. Parris and Hathorne are fearful of the court being overturned and try to turn Proctor’s defence against his wife into an attack on the court. Proctor shows Danforth a deposition signed by ninety-one members of the village claiming they never saw Elizabeth, Mary or Rebecca having dealings with the devil. Thomas Putnam is sent for and when he enters an argument between him and Giles begins over land. Danforth reads Mary’s deposition and the girls are sent for. Mary says that Proctor has not forced her to tell the truth and that she lied even though she knew others would be executed. The other girls enter and Abigail is asked if there is any truth in Mary’s statement. Abigail denies any charges made against her and claims that Mary is lying. Danforth questions Abigail on the allegation she made claiming Elizabeth Proctor was trying to kill her through the use of poppets. John Proctor denies this charge of Elizabeth keeping poppets claiming she has not owned one since she was a child. The truth is told to the court about Parris seeing the girls dancing in the forest naked. Mary is questioned again about the truth of her deposition claiming the girls were frauds. She replies again ‘That were pretence’. Mary is asked to faint again but feels she cannot, as she has no sense of it. Abigail is questioned again about the truth of her claiming witchcraft, angrily, she claims she will leave if asked again. Suddenly, the girls begin to scream feeling a cold wind. Proctor grabs Abigail and thrusts her in front of the court and recounts his previous affair with Abigail claiming she is a ‘whore’. Danforth calls for Elizabeth Proctor to be brought in front of the court after ensuring Elizabeth previously knew about this affair. He asks Abigail and Proctor to turn their backs and Elizabeth enters. Danforth questions Elizabeth on her relationship with John and why she dismissed Abigail Williams. Danforth asks her clearly if her husband has committed the charge of lechery against her, she denies the charge and is removed from court. Abigail suddenly claims she can see a bird sent out by Mary Warren to hurt the girls. The girls begin to copy Mary Warren, the court goes into uproar and Mary suddenly changes her plea, blaming Proctor as the cause of the witchcraft. As the scene ends, John Proctor is arrested. Through work in class, we worked on this scene putting emphasis on different parts of the scene such as the Elizabeth Proctor’s questioning and Mary Warren’s ultimate confession to witchcraft to see which part was more vital in building up the climax to John Proctor’s arrest. Through this we saw how each part was necessary in building up to the hysterical ending.
The scene begins in a Salem jail with a conversation between Sarah Good and Tituba who are soon to be taken away. Hathorne and Danforth talk over the problems within the village and how Parris has turned strange. Parris enters and tells how Abigail has run away taking with her all of his money. During a workshop, We did a character analysis on Parris at this point in the play helping us to understand his desperate actions. Parris asks Danforth to postpone the hangings because the village has run scared. Danforth demands that they must get a confession from John Proctor to ensure the hangings seem for a purpose. Goody Proctor is called for to talk her husband into signing, she promises nothing but agrees to talk alone with him. Elizabeth does not tell John what to do but blames his problems on herself. She tells John to do whatever he feels is necessary to do. John cries ‘I want my life’, to the charge of witchery thus claiming he has seen the devil. In horror, Proctor realises he must sign his name to the charge. John is questioned over who he saw with the devil but denies knowledge of seeing anybody thus, making all those people who hung innocent. Proctor finally accepts to sign his name although he argues that it should not be shown in the village. Suddenly, He rips the warrant declaring he wishes for his name not to be blackened although he will certainly hang. John is lead away to be hanged. Hale begs Elizabeth to plead with him but the scene ends on Elizabeth crying as the sun rises ‘He have his goodness now’.