A small upper bedroom in the house of Reverend Samuel Parris in Salem in the spring of 1692. Betty Parris, aged ten, is lying on the bed. Parris was in his mid forties, and believed that he was being persecuted wherever he went. He felt insulted if someone rose to shut the door without first asking his permission. He did not understand children. The town appointed a two man patrol to walk forth in the time of God's worship to take notice of people not attending church. The wilderness was quite near Salem. The Salem trial developed from a paradox: for good purposes, the people of Salem developed a theocracy to prevent disunity. The witch-hunt was a long overdue opportunity to express guilt and sins publicly.
Scene I: Tituba, the fortiesh slave from Barbados enters. Parris orders her out, then falls to the floor and sobs. Abigail Williams, seventeen, a strikingly beautiful orphan enters to tell her uncle that Susanna Walcott is here from Doctor Griggs. Susanna, a little younger than Abigail, enters and tells Parris that the doctor could find nothing in his books which could explain her condition. Parris tells her that he has sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly. Abigail talks of the rumors of witchcraft, and says that the parlor's packed with people. Parris is ashamed that his niece and daughter were discovered dancing like heathen. Parris says that a faction is out to get him. Parris tells Abigail that he saw Tituba waving her arms over the fire when he found them, and a dress lying in the grass. He thought he saw someone running naked through the trees. Parris mentions Abby's discharge from Goody Proctor's service, but Abby calls her a lying, cold sniveling woman. Ann Putnam enters, a twisted soul of forty-five, haunted by dreams. Mrs. Putnam says that they have a stroke of hell upon them. She asks how high Betty flew. Mr. Collins saw her going over Ingersoll's barn. Thomas Putnam, a well to do landowner near fifty, enters and says that his Ruth is sick. Putnam seems to want to blame witchcraft. Putnam was a man with many grievances, for his wife's brother-in-law James Bayley, had been turned down as the minister of Salem because a faction stopped his acceptance. He was the richest man in the village and fought the Indians at Narragansett. He had a vindictive nature, demonstrated when he had George Burroughs, another Salem minister, jailed for debts. Mrs. Putnam says that she has laid seven babies unbaptized in the earth, and now Ruth has been turning strange, so she sent her to Tituba because Tituba knows how to speak to the dead to find out who murdered her babies. Mercy Lewis, the Putnam's fat 18-year old servant, enters to tell that Ruth sneezed. Putnam encourages Parris to speak to the crowd. Mercy and Abigail talk with each other, and Abby told Mercy what she told- about Tituba conjuring Ruth's sisters and seeing Mercy naked. Mary Warren, a seventeen year old girl, enters in a panic, and claims that she only looked at everybody dancing. Abby goes over to Betty and shakes her. Betty flattens herself against the wall and says that she wants her mother. Betty says that Abby drank blood to kill Goody Proctor, so Abby hits her. John Proctor enters, and Mary Warren leaps in fright. He was a thirtiesh farmer with a sharp and biting way with hypocrites. Proctor orders Mary home, and Mercy leaves. Abby flirts with Proctor, and says that he cannot deny her. Abby begins to weep and clutches him desperately. He calls her a child. Abby accuses Elizabeth Proctor of destroying Abby's name. The words "going up to Jesus" are heard in the psalm from downstairs, and Betty begins crying. Parris and Mrs.. Putnam enter. Rebecca Nurse, 72, enters with Giles Corey, 83. Giles asks if Betty will fly again. Rebecca was the wife of Francis Nurse, who was an arbitrator. Some resented his rise to power, including the Putnams who resented a land war between them. The Nurse clan was the faction which prevented Bayley from taking office. Rebecca says that she has eleven children and twenty-six grandchildren, and that the only way to catch a child's spirit is to stand still. Putnam accuses Proctor of not attending the Sabbath. Proctor says that he does not because God is never mentioned anymore. Parris demands his wood, for he is a Harvard graduate. He says that he left a thrifty business in the Barbados to serve the Lord. He demands a deed to his house. Parris mentions hell, so Proctor says that he is sick of hell. Giles and Proctor had a dispute, for Giles sued Proctor for four pounds damages for slander- he said that Giles burned the roof of his house. Proctor and Putnam have a dispute over land. Hale, nearing forty, enters. He believed in the Devil and thought of himself as a doctor on call. He brings a half a dozen heavy books. He sees Rebecca Nurse and mentions her great charities in Beverly. He also meets Putnam. Giles tells Hale that Proctor does not believe in witches. Proctor says to Hale that he is a sensible man and perhaps should leave some sense in Salem. Hale says that the Devil is precise. Rebecca leaves on a note of moral superiority. Giles confides in hale that he has found Martha, his wife, reading a book, and while she was reading he could not remember his prayers. Giles was a crank and a nuisance but a deeply innocent and brave man. Abby says that there was a frog in the kettle while dancing. Abby says that Betty made me drink chicken blood and that Tituba tries to corrupt her dreams. Hale asks Tituba if she is a good Christian woman. They ask her if she say Sarah Good with the Devil. Tituba says that there were four with the Devil, and that the Devil bid her to kill Parris so she can go back to Barbados. She says that it was Goody Osburn and Sarah Good. Abby adds Bridget Bishop and Goody Sibber, Goody Hawkins and Goody Booth, and Betty adds George Jacobs, Goody Howe, Alice Barrow, Goody Bibber.
Scene I: Eight days later at the common room of the Proctor's house. Elizabeth is singing to the children, and John enters carrying his gun. He takes some soup from the pot, but adds salt to make it better. Elizabeth asks him why he was so late, and he says that he was planting. Elizabeth and John have small talk about a rabbit, which walked into the house. Proctor talks about buying George Jacob's heifer. Proctor talks about lilacs in Massachusetts, but notices that Elizabeth is sad because she thought that he went to Salem this afternoon. Proctor is angry that his wife let Mary Warren go because the girl frightened her. Mary Warren claimed she was an official of the court. Abigail has been treated as a saint. Elizabeth tells him to go to Ezekiel Cheever. Elizabeth is mad that Proctor was alone with Abby. They argue about her suspicions. Proctor says how he has gone tiptoe in the house since Abby left and has been eternally judged by her. He says that he confessed like a Christian. He says that Elizabeth's justice would freeze beer. Mary Warren enters, and Proctor grabs her. She says that she is sick. Mary gives Elizabeth the gift of a rag doll. There were thirty-nine women arrested. Goody Osburn will hang, but not Sarah Good, because she confessed. Mary says that Sarah sent her spirit out and almost choked them. Sarah Good is a homeless woman who often came to Mary's door for food and mumbled as she went away. Thus, Mary thought that she was cursed. Judge Hathorne asked Sarah Good what she said, and she claimed that it was the Commandments- which she did not know. Goody Good is pregnant. Mary defies Proctor's threats of whipping. Mary says that she saved Elizabeth's life today. Elizabeth was mentioned in court. Mary goes up to bed. Elizabeth fears that she will die. Proctor vows to find Ezekiel Cheever. Elizabeth speaks of a promise made in any bed. Mr. Hale visits, after charging Rebecca Nurse. Proctor says that it is hard to believe that Rebecca could be a Devil's servant, but Hale says that Satan is a wily one. Hale mentions that Proctor is rarely in church (because his wife is sick). Proctor mentions the golden candlesticks that Parris demanded from Francis Nurse. Hale mentions that only two of Proctor's sons are baptized- because Proctor does not want Parris to baptize them. Hale asks Proctor the Commandments. He says "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" twice, but forgets adultery. Proctor tells Hale what Abigail told him- that it had nothing to do with witchcraft. Elizabeth tells Hale that she does not believe in witches. Giles Corey enters to tell that his wife and Rebecca Nurse were taken. Giles is angry that his comment about his wife was misinterpreted. Walcott charged Martha Corey with killing a big. Cheever, a clerk of the court, and Marshal Herrick, enter. Ezekiel is a tailor. Cheever brings a warrant for Elizabeth's arrest. Cheever asks for poppets, and finds the one that Mary Warren gave to her. A needle was in the poppet. Cheever says that Abby claimed that she was 'stabbed.' Proctor snatches the warrant from Cheever and rips it. Proctor does not allow Elizabeth to leave. Herrick says that he has nine men outside. Proctor calls Hale Pontius Pilate and a coward. Proctor demands that Mary charge murder on Abigail. He throws Mary Warren to the floor as she says, "I cannot. I cannot."
Scene II: Proctor speaks with Abigail in a wood. They sit on a log. Proctor discusses how famous she is. Abby pulls up her dress to show the needle and pin marks. She also says that George Jacobs raps her with his stick. Abigail says that Proctor is good. Proctor tells her to tell the truth. Abigail tells him that he is happy that his wife will hang.
Scene I: The vestry of the Salem meeting house, now serving as the anteroom of the General Court. Hathorne asks Martha Corey whether she reads fortunes. Martha denies it. Giles says that Thomas Putnam is reaching out for land. Danforth orders the Marshal to remove Giles. Giles is carried in. Hale enters. Danforth is the deputy governor, a grave man in his sixties. Giles sobs, pleading with Danforth. Francis claims that the girls are frauds. Danforth brags that nearly four hundred people are in jail because of him. Parris is shocked to see Mary Warren. John Proctor also enters. Proctor tells them that Mary never say any spirits and has signed a deposition. Parris claims that Proctor is trying to overthrow the court. Mary Warren admits that everybody is pretending. Cheever tells Danforth how Proctor ripped the warrant. Cheever makes accusations against Proctor. Danforth says that Elizabeth is pregnant. Danforth believes that Proctor is trying to overthrow the court. There is a paper with ninety-one names claiming the good opinion of Rebecca and Martha. Proctor reminds Mary about what Raphael said to Tobias: "Do that which is good, and no harm shall come to thee." Giles mentions to Danforth how his father tried one of his cases. As Putnam enters, Giles becomes uneasy. Giles accuses Putnam of killing his neighbors for his land. Danforth arrests Giles for contempt of court. Giles rushes for Putnam, but Proctor holds him back. Mary begins to weep. Proctor hands Mary Warren's deposition to Danforth. Danforth questions Mary Warren, and she says that she lied before. Susanna Walcott, Mercy Lewis, Betty Parris, and Abigail enter. Danforth tells them that Mary Warren has given a deposition. Abby denies everything. Danforth says that Mary may have been taken by the Devil. Abby says that Goody Proctor always kept poppets. Proctor mentions how Abby has laughed in church during prayer. Parris denies that he found the girls naked in the woods. Proctor claims that all of the girls are pretenders. Mary says that she thought she saw spirits. Abby says that she has been hurt. Proctor leaps at Abigail and grabs her by the hair to pull her to her feet. He calls her a whore. Proctor admits that he had an affair with Abby. He says that eight months ago they had sex in the barn. Abby pretends that Mary Warren sent her spirit out on her. Proctor tries to save his wife by sacrificing himself. They go down to see Elizabeth to see if she will admit about Abby. Elizabeth says that Abby dissatisfied her. Elizabeth refuses to admit the affair. Hale tries to stop the trials. Mercy Lewis claims that there is a yellow bird on the rafter. Abby pretends that Mary is in the form of a yellow bird. The girls back her up. Danforth claims that Mary has the power to witch people. Abby says that the bird's wings are spreading. Parris says to Abby to cast the Devil out. Proctor rushes at Mary. Mary claims that Proctor is the Devil's man. Mary says that Proctor came to her to sign the Devil's book. Proctor claims that God is dead. He claims that he sees the Devil's face- his own and Danforth's. Danforth orders Herrick to take Proctor and Corey to jail.
A cell in Salem, that fall. The place is darkness. Marshal Herrick, who is drunk, enters and wakes Sarah Good and Tituba. As Sarah drinks, Tituba says that Satan is going to take them back to Barbados. Sarah says that he is going to transform them into bluebirds. They mistake a cow with a hatful of milk for Satan. Danforth arrives, then Hathorne. Parris has been preaching in Andover. Parris has a mad look, because of the cows without masters which hae wandered about the village. Parris, a gaunt and frightened man, enters. Abby has vanished with Mercy Lewis. He thinks that they went aboard a ship, and have taken thirty-one pounds from his strongbox. There was an uprising in Andover, and the court was overthrown. Parris fears that there will be a riot if Rebecca Nurse is executed. Parris mentions that there were hardly thirty people for Proctor's excommunication, and claims that he found a dagger at its door. Hale has spoken to all but Proctor. Danforth refuses to stop the executions. Hale believes that he is doing the Devil's work. He says that there is blood on his head. Hale speaks to Elizabeth. Hale tells Elizabeth to admit that she is a witch just to save her life. Herrick enters with Proctor, whose wrists are chained and he is bearded and filthy. Parris offers him a cup of cider. The two are left alone. Their boys are being kept by Rebecca's Samuel. Proctor has been tortured. Giles died from being pressed. His last words: "more weight." Proctor says that he cannot mount the gibbet like a saint. Elizabeth thinks that his lechery is her fault. Proctor tells Hathorne that he wants his life. Danforth demands that he give a written statement. He will not say that he saw anybody else with the Devil. Hale does not care, but Danforth wants names. They get a pen, but Proctor will not sign it. He damns the village and says that he does not need to confess to them. He does not want the town to use him. Proctor sees some goodness in himself. Hale wants Elizabeth to plead with him. Elizabeth says that he has his goodness now, and it would be wrong to take it from him.