The Crucible Study Guide

The Crucible By Arthur Miller

Betty Parris is unconscious in bed, and father Reverend Parris is praying over her. It comes out through conversation that a bunch of girls including Betty's cousin Abigail were doing black magic, led by Tituba, Parris' slave from Barbados. Parris surprised them in the middle of their ritual, and Betty fainted and never recovered. The townspeople don't know exactly what the girls were doing, but witchcraft is whispered of.

Later, John Proctor enters the room, where now just Abigail and the unconscious Betty lie. Abigail tries to seduce Proctor (she had an affair with him a while back), but fails. Reverend John Hail, expert in occultism, is summoned to examine Betty. He questions Abigail, who points the finger at Tituba, who in turn points the finger at Goodwives Osborne and Good. Meanwhile, Betty wakes up, and she and Abigail confess their faith in God, and start listing people they have 'seen with the Devil'.

Later, Proctor learns from his wife Elizabeth that the Deputy Governor of the Province has convened a court that has thus far jailed fourteen people for witchcraft. She tells him that he must reveal that Abigail is faking and these people are innocent. Their servant Mary, who has been chosen as part of the court, returns and informs them that as of the end of the day, thirty-nine people are now in jail. Proctor believes the court cannot have evidence of these crimes. Mary says that even Elizabeth was accused, but since Mary was there to defend her, the accusation was dismissed. Elizabeth is convinced that Abigail made it up to get rid of her and win Proctor back for herself. Reverend Hale visits and mentions that Proctor's name came up in court, asking him to profess faith in God and name the Ten Commandments. Proctor can only come up with nine, and his wife reminds him of the one he cannot recall: thou shalt not commit adultery. Proctor tells Hale that Abigail has admitted that witchcraft was not to blame, and Hale asks Proctor to say so in court.

Shortly, people show up to arrest Elizabeth. Abigail has accused her of witchcraft and has manipulated evidence of it. Proctor tells Mary that she must testify against Abigail, but Mary is afraid. Proctor learns that Mary knows of his affair.

Proctor and Mary go to court, promising to clear up the issue with the girls if Elizabeth is freed. Mary confesses that she knows there aren't any spirits, but Abigail and the other girls start to freak out. When Abigail calls out to God, Proctor tells the court of his affair to make her seem impure. Abigail denies everything, and Elizabeth is brought in. Not knowing what happened, when she is asked about the affair, she denies it. Proctor insists the affair happened, and Mary in a panic claims Proctor is in league with the Devil and forced her to testify. Proctor is arrested for witchcraft, and Reverend Hale denounces the proceedings and quits the court.

John Proctor is about to be executed, and Reverend Parris is upset about it. He explains to some men that Abigail and another girl stole his money and snuck onto a ship in the night. Meanwhile, Elizabeth convinces John to confess so that he can live. John signs a confession, but then tears it up when he realizes that it will be made public and ruin his family's name. The play ends with John Proctor being dragged

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"So now they and their church found it necessary to deny any other sect its freedom,
lest their New Jerusalem be defiled and corrupted by wrong and deceitful ideas." What is
the irony in that statement?

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