THE CRUCIBLE: Plot Summary
Act 1
Reverend Parris prays beside his daughter's bed. Ten-year-old Betty Parris lies in an unresponsive state. She has
been in this condition since her father discovered her and her cousin Abigail Williams dancing in the woods.
Susanna Walcott enters to inform the Reverend that Doctor Griggs has been unable to find a medical
explanation for Betty's condition and suggests that he look for an unnatural cause. Abigail and the Reverend
instruct Susanna to return home and say nothing more of the possibility of such things. Abigail informs her
uncle that their parlor is packed with townspeople who have heard rumors of witchcraft. It is being said that
Betty has been bewitched. Parris berates his niece for dancing in the woods with the other girls and his slave
Tituba. Tituba had been intoning unintelligible words and waving her arms above a fire while the girls danced.
He demands to know what she was singing and why he saw a dress on the ground. Had there been nudity as
well? She denies this as well as the idea that they had been practicing witchcraft. Her uncle is concerned about
the future of his position in the parish as well as his daughter's health. Abigail had recently been discharged
from her position at Elizabeth Proctor's and since, no other family had sought her service. Goody Proctor has
insinuated that Abigail is a corrupt girl. Parris asks if she has done something to soil her name, and therefore
his. Abigail is again denying wrongdoing when Ann Putnam enters and is soon followed by her husband.
Goody Putnam informs Reverend Parris that another townsperson reported seeing his daughter Betty fly over a
barn. When her husband enters, he informs Parris that his daughter, Ruth, is also afflicted but her symptoms are
different from Betty's. Parris begs Thomas Putnam to refrain from blaming the situation on witchcraft (as it will
threaten his position in the parish). Putnam feels only contempt for Parris however, and insists that evil spirits
are to blame. He compels his wife to confess to Parris that she sent their daughter, Ruth, to Tituba to conjure up
the spirits of her seven dead children so as to find out who was to blame for their deaths. Parris is horrified that
his family was involved in conjuring spirits though Abigail insists it was only Tituba and Ruth. Putnam again
declares that a murderous witch is at work and that Parris ought to announce the discovery of witchcraft.
As the proof is in his own home, the Reverend refuses to do this, at least until Reverend Hale arrives to
investigate further. Mercy Lewis, the Putnam's servant girl, arrives saying she wants to check on Betty. As soon
as the adults are gone however, she and Abigail begin to discuss the situation. Abigail lets her know how much
has been confessed and instructs her to admit to nothing more. Another girl, Mary Warren, arrives and
expresses her fear that they will be accused of witchcraft. She encourages the other girls to admit to dancing and
accept a whipping. Betty cries out for her mother and screams at her cousin for having drunk a charm (blood) to
kill Elizabeth Proctor. She then tries to leap from the window but is restrained. Abigail threatens the girls if they
dare to speak about the events in the woods further. John Proctor enters and reprimands his servant, Mary
Warren, for having left the house against his orders. She and Mercy Lewis leave and Abigail attempts to seduce
Proctor into resuming their affair. He rejects her harshly.
At this point, a psalm is heard and Betty begins to scream bringing the others running and interrupting Abigail
and Proctor. Rebecca Nurse advises everyone that the spectacle is all a child's silliness and nothing more. She
believes that Betty and Ruth will come out of their afflicted states when they tire of the game. The adults
continue to squabble, moving from the children to the issues of Parris' preaching and his pay. They then move
on to issues of property and power. These are the true issues in the society. Reverend Hale arrives and the
subject turns back to the children and the presence of witchcraft. Hale assesses the situation. He attempts to
revive the now limp Betty while questioning Abigail. Abigail is forced into admitting further details of the night
in the woods. She quickly jumps to blame Tituba and claims ignorance. Tituba is called for and is shocked
when Abigail accuses her. She denies being affiliated with the Devil. Abigail continues accusing until the crowd
has been worked up and calls for the execution of the slave. Tituba caves in at this point and tells the people that
she is an unwilling servant to the Devil. She says that she believes one of the Devil's other witches is afflicting
the children. She is questioned further and Putnam even goes as far as to suggest certain women in the town as
possibly being the witch. Tituba picks up the hint and accuses the women, Goody Good and Goody Osburn,
suggested by Putnam. Abigail suddenly rises and claims to also have seen those women with the Devil as well
as Bridget Bishop. Betty catches on at this point and rises from her unconscious state to join her cousin in
accusing several others.
THE CRUCIBLE: Plot Summary
Act II opens in the house of John and Elizabeth Proctor, eight days later. They begin having dinner and it
gradually comes out that Mary Warren has gone into Salem. John Proctor had forbidden her to do so and
reprimands his wife for allowing Mary to override her. She tells John what Mary has told her about the
appointment of a court and its proceedings regarding the girls' accusations. She tells John that he must go and
tell the court that Abigail is orchestrating the whole affair. They argue again about his past involvement with the
girl and Elizabeth's continuing suspicion. Mary Warren arrives home at that moment and so Proctor turns his
rage onto her. She hangs limp and claims illness. Proctor releases her and reminds her of her duty to his family.
She responds by giving Elizabeth a poppet she made for her and then updating the Proctors on the current state
of affairs in Salem. Goody Osburn has been the first sentenced to hang. Sarah Good escaped this fate by
confessing to witchcraft. Mary Warren claims that Sarah Good sent her spirit to choke her in the courtroom and
reveals that she had a key role in the evidence against Goody Good. Proctor forbids her from returning to the
court but Mary Warren insists she is doing God's work and when threatened further, reveals that Elizabeth
herself has been accused. Mary Warren says that she defended Elizabeth but will not reveal who brought the
accusation to court. Elizabeth realizes that it was Abigail (as does John) and that she means to take her place in
the Proctor household. She tells John that he must now go to Abigail, rather than the court, to stop the
accusations. They argue again about the girl but John agrees to confront her.
Reverend Hale arrives at that moment. He discusses Elizabeth's accusation and hints at suspicion regarding
Rebecca Nurse. He questions the Christianity of the Proctor household. Proctor admits that he does not respect
Parris as a minister. Hale asks Proctor to recite the commandments (Sarah Good's inability to do so was taken as
proof of witchcraft). Proctor tells Hale then what Abigail revealed to him about the true cause of their affliction.
Hale is more taken with Elizabeth's denial of the existence of witches than Proctor's revelation. Giles Corey
arrives at that moment, quickly followed by Francis Nurse, reporting that their wives had been arrested.
Rebecca Nurse has been accused of supernaturally murdering Goody Putnam's babies. Reverend Hale attempts
to defend the witch trials in the face of this outrageous accusation. It does little to alleviate the men's anger.
Ezekiel Cheever arrives and announces that he is now the clerk of the court and he has a warrant for Elizabeth.
He says that Abigail Williams has accused her and he has been instructed to search the house for poppets
(dolls). The Proctor's hand over the only one they have, the one Mary Warren has just given Elizabeth. Cheever
bids Elizabeth to come with him but Proctor insists on sending her to fetch Mary Warren.
Upon examination of the poppet, Cheever discovers a needle imbedded in it and becomes convinced of
Elizabeth's guilt. They learn that Abigail had suddenly clutched her stomach that evening and pulled out a twoinch needle. She claimed that Elizabeth Proctor had been her assailant. Mary Warren enters and admits to
having made the poppet and to leaving the needle in it. She states that Susanna Walcott and Abigail had both
seen her make it in court. Elizabeth displays her fury toward Abigail. Cheever takes this as further evidence of
her guilt and insists on her arrest. Proctor turns to Hale who responds by again defending the court system.
Elizabeth is taken. Proctor commands Mary Warren to accompany him to court to tell the truth about the
poppet. She responds that Abigail will kill her for this and that they will only incur Abigail's wrath by going to
court. Proctor realizes then that he must reveal his relationship with Abigail to save his wife.
THE CRUCIBLE: Plot Summary
Martha Corey is on trial in the Salem meetinghouse as Act III opens. She adamantly denies any involvement in
hurting the children. Her husband bursts into the courtroom shouting that he has evidence of her innocence,
accompanied by Francis Nurse. He is dragged out of the room by Herrick and joined by the other men of the
court. The court refuses to hear the men and is attempting to dismiss them when Mary Warren arrives with John
Proctor. They back up the men's story that the girls are frauds. Parris desperately tries to stop their testimony.
Cheever brings up the incident in which Proctor ripped up the warrant for his wife and the men debate the
possibility that he is attempting to make an attack on the court. They reveal that Elizabeth Proctor has claimed
to be pregnant and when Proctor still refuses to drop his charges of fraud (His wife cannot be hung as long as
she carries an innocent child), Danforth insists that he means to attack them. Proctor presents a petition that
attests to the innocence of the accused women. Parris tries to disparage these people and his arguments result in
warrants being drawn up for all of them to be examined. Thomas Putnam is brought in and it is revealed to him
that Giles Corey has accused him of compelling his daughter to accuse George Jacobs in order to acquire his
land. He of course, denies this. Corey refuses to reveal the source of this information for fear that this person
will be arrested like those who signed the petition. He is charged with contempt of court. Proctor speaks up at
this point and compels Mary Warren to admit to her involvement in Abigail's game. The children are brought
in. Abigail denies Mary's charges and stands by her accusations. Proctor continues to try to discredit Abigail
and when it looks like he is going to succeed, Abigail unleashes her strongest weapon. She begins to act as
though she is afflicted, and is quickly followed by the other girls. Her accusing eyes roam until finally settling
on Mary Warren. Mary Warren tries to fight Abigail but the favor of the room is quickly slipping away from
her. Proctor, having no options left, reveals his affair with Abigail. The men are horrified. Proctor and Abigail
are instructed to turn their backs as Elizabeth Proctor is brought in. They ask her if her husband has been
unfaithful. Not knowing that he has confessed and thinking of his protection, she denies it. As she is led out,
Proctor tells her that he confessed it and they both realize that they are undone. Abigail and the other girls
continue to act as though afflicted by Mary Warren until the girl finally cracks. She accuses Proctor of having
used her for the Devil's work and runs into the now welcoming arms of Abigail. Proctor and Giles Corey are led
off to the prison. Reverend Hale realizes the dishonesty of the girls at last and quits the court in protest.
THE CRUCIBLE: Plot Summary
Act 4
The final act opens that fall in the Salem jail. Several hangings are scheduled for that morning, including those
of John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. Marshal Herrick enters and shoos Sarah Good and Tituba from the room.
Danforth, Hathorne, and Cheever arrive and ask why Reverend Hale has been allowed in the prison. They
discover that Parris has allowed it and so they send for him. They discuss how Parris has seemed rather unstable
lately. When he enters, they discover that Hale has been trying to convince Rebecca Nurse to save herself by
confessing. They ask Parris why he has been troubled and it is revealed that Abigail has vanished with Mercy
Lewis having taken every cent he had. Parris attempt s to convince the men to stop the hangings, realizing that it
has all been taken too far. He feels that the townspeople no longer support it. The men refuse however, to even
postpone the hangings as it will bring the executions that have already taken place, and therefore themselves,
into question. They then speak to Elizabeth Proctor, now three months pregnant, to try to convince her to
compel her husband into confessing and saving himself. She promises nothing but asks to speak to him anyway.
When they are left alone, they discuss their baby and recent events. He has been tortured and has not heard
anything. She tells him that Giles Corey was pressed to death. He had refused to enter a plea in order to prevent
his land from being forfeited. The court piled stones upon him, the idea being that he would answer under the
stress of the great weight. Instead, Corey simply called for more weight until he was finally crushed and since
he could not be convicted without a plea, his sons were able to retain his land. Elizabeth tries to take the blame
for Proctor's unfaithfulness, which causes him great pain. Hathorne enters and John states that he will keep his
life. The men enter and begin to take his confession. Rebecca is brought in to hear that Proctor has given in. She
is horrified and is not moved from her position of innocence. Proctor says that he had never seen any of the
accused women with the Devil when questioned. He states that his confession should be enough. When it comes
time to sign it however, he is hesitant. The confession will be posted on the church door for everyone to see. He
finally does sign it but then, unable to stand the lie, rips the confession to shreds. Danforth announces his fate.
Rebecca and John are led out. Hale begs Elizabeth to plead with her husband but she will not. Proctor will die
an honest man, condemned by a corrupt system