2 “The Crucible” – Before the Play Several months before the start of the play:Abigail Williams, a teenage girl, works at John and Elizabeth Proctor’s farm as a servant.Abigail and John Proctor have an affair.Elizabeth Proctor discovers the affair. She sacks Abigail, and Elizabeth and John try to rebuild their marriage.Mary Warren, one of Abigail’s friends, is employed by the Proctors as their new servant.Several days before the start of the play:Abigail, along with some other girls from the village (Betty Parris, Mary Warren, Susanna Walcott and Mercy Lewis) and Tituba, Reverend Parris’ Africa-American slave, meet in the woods outside Salem and attempt to practice witchcraft.Abigail drinks a potion, in an attempt to kill Elizabeth Proctor.Reverend Parris discovers the women together in the woods.Betty Parris falls into a coma.
3 “The Crucible” – Act 1Reverend Parris prays by his daughter Betty’s bed, in attempt to get her out of her coma.Abigail Williams, Parris’ niece enters, and Parris questions her about what she and the other girls were doing in the woods. Abigail insists they weren’t doing anything wrong.Thomas and Ann Putnam arrive and tell Parris that their daughter, Ruth, is also in a coma. They believe the comas have been caused by witchcraft.The Putnams persuade Parris to go and talk to the villagers that have been gathering outside the house.After the adults have left, Betty wakes up and tries to throw herself out of the bedroom window.Abigail threatens Betty and the others girls who are there, telling them not to tell anyone that they were trying to practice witchcraft in the forest.John Proctor arrives and is left alone with Abigail. Abigail tells Proctor that the girls were only pretending to practice witchcraft.Abigail tries to persuade Proctor to continue the affair they have been having, but Proctor insists that their relationship is over.Betty wakes up and starts screaming, causing Parris, the Putnams and many others from the village to come to see what has happened.Rebecca Nurse calms Betty down and says she thinks there’s nothing wrong with Betty.The adults start to squabble about various petty issues they have with each other.Reverend Hale, a minister from a nearby town, arrives and tries to find out what is wrong with Betty.When questioned by Hale about what they were doing in the woods, Abigail blames Tituba.Tituba is called for and, when threatened with hanging, confesses to worshipping the Devil. She then says that Sarah Good, another woman from the village, has been worshipping the Devil.Abigail suddenly confesses to worshipping the Devil, begs for forgiveness and says that Sarah Good has also been worshipping the Devil.Betty wakes from her coma and joins Abigail in accusing other women of worshipping the Devil.
4 “The Crucible” – Act 2At the Proctor’s farmhouse, John sits down to dinner with his wife, Elizabeth. They have an awkward conversation, hinting at the strain on their relationship caused by Proctor’s relationship with Abigail.We discover that Abigail, Mary Warren and other girls from Salem have now become key witnesses in the Salem witch hunts, and that many people from the town are in jail, accused of witchcraft.Elizabeth suggests John tells the court what Abigail told him in Act 1 – that the girls were only pretending to practice witchcraft. Proctor says it is hard to prove what Abigail said, as he was alone with her when she said it. This upsets Elizabeth, as she had not realised John had been alone with Abigail.The Proctors’ argument is interrupted by the arrival of Mary Warren. She gives Elizabeth a gift – a small doll that she made – and reveals that the courts have sentenced someone to death for witchcraft.John becomes angry about Mary’s involvement in the trials and is about to beat her, when Mary reveals that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft, but Mary defended her.After Mary goes to bed, Elizabeth and John share their fears, realising that Abigail is trying to get rid of Elizabeth so that she can take her place as John’s lover.Elizabeth asks John to talk to Abigail and tell her he wants nothing more to do with her, but they start to argue again.Reverend Hale arrives and starts to question Elizabeth and John, trying to find out how Christian they are. He is concerned that Proctor does not go to church regularly and can’t recite the commandments.John tells Hale about his meeting with Abigail.Ezekiel Cheever, an official of the court arrives. He discovers the doll that Mary had given Elizabeth, and sees it as evidence of Elizabeth’s involvement in witchcraft.Despite Proctor’s protests, Elizabeth is arrested and taken to be tried for witchcraft in Salem.Left alone with Mary Warren, Proctor threatens her, saying that they will go to Salem and she will testify in the court, in order to prove Elizabeth’s innocence.
5 “The Crucible” – Act 3In a room in the Salem meeting house, Deputy Governor Danforth and Judge Hathorne are forced to stop the witch trials due to Giles Corey and Francis Nurse interrupting them with claims of new evidence.They are joined by John Proctor, who has brought Mary Warren with him and tells the court that she has signed a statement saying that the girls have been lying about their accusations of witchcraft.Danforth tells Proctor that he will spare Elizabeth from execution for a month, as she is pregnant. However Proctor says he must present his evidence to the court, as he needs to help defend his friends.Francis Nurse presents a list of people that will vouch for the good character of Elizabeth, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey. However Danforth simply orders that all of the people are arrested for questioning.Giles then says he has evidence that Putnam is having people accused so that he can buy up their land when they are executed. However, he is arrested for perjury when he refuses to name his witness.Proctor gives Danforth Mary Warren’s statement. Danforth reads it and then summons the other girls.When the girls arrive, Danforth asks Abigail if they have been lying. Abigail denies it, then starts to act as though Mary Warren is using witchcraft to hurt her.Proctor interrupts Abigail, throwing her to the ground and telling the court they have had an affair.Elizabeth is summoned and Danforth asks her why she sacked Abigail. Elizabeth lies to protect Proctor, saying he did not have an affair with Abigail, not realising that this will undermine Proctor’s evidence.Abigail shrieks and looks up at the ceiling, claiming to see a yellow bird that Mary has sent to attack her. The girls follow her lead, convincing most of the people in the court that Mary is using witchcraft.Suddenly Mary joins in the girls’ screaming. When Proctor tries to comfort her, she runs from him and accuses him of using witchcraft to force her to say the girls have been lying.Danforth and the court turn against Proctor, ordering that he is arrested for witchcraft. Proctor laughs bitterly at this injustice and Reverend Hale quits the court in disgust.
6 “The Crucible” – Act 4Judges Danforth and Hathorne arrive in one of Salem’s jail cells, along with Ezekiel Cheever.Marshall Herrick tells the judges that Reverend Hale has returned to Salem to try to get people accused of witchcraft to confess, so that they will not be hung.Parris arrives, and confesses that Abigail has run away, having stolen his life savings.We learn that Salem is practically deserted, as so many of the townspeople are in jail now. There are also suggestions that some towns are rebelling against the witch trials.Danforth, Hathorne and Parris realise that something must be done to avoid an uprising in Salem.The men decide to try to get John Proctor to confess, in order to prove that the people being hung are guilty. Danforth summons Elizabeth Proctor, hoping she will be able to persuade her husband to do so.Elizabeth agrees to speak with Proctor, who is then summoned and left alone to talk to his wife.We learn that Giles Corey refused to confess or deny the charge that he practised witchcraft, as this would mean the government could prevent his children from inheriting his land. To try to get him to answer the charge, heavy stones were piled upon him until he eventually died.Elizabeth and John open up to each other, apologising for the way they have treated each other in the past. It is clear just how much they love one another now.John asks Elizabeth if she thinks he should confess. He wants to, as he doesn’t think he is good enough to die alongside people like Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey.Danforth, Hathorne, Hale and Parris return, and are delighted that Proctor intends to confess.Proctor confesses to practising witchcraft, but refuses to say that anyone else did so with him.Proctor signs the written confession. However, when Danforth tells him he intends to show the confession to the townspeople, Proctor snatches it back and tears it up, refusing to have his name ruined.Proctor realises that he is, at heart, a good person, and is led out to be hung alongside Rebecca and the others.