Summary of The Crucible
The Play Crucible is composed of four acts. All the acts were performed at different places. Here is a summary of The Crucible.
Act-wise Summary of The Crucible
Summary of Act I
The play takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692. The Crucible opens in the home of Reverend Parris, where Betty is lying unconscious in bed. Betty is Parris’ daughter and now she is very ill and witchcraft is suspected because at last midnight Parris saw Betty dancing in the woods with his niece Abigail, and his black slave Tituba and other girls. The local physician Doctor Griggs could not find the cause of her illness. He suggests witchcraft as a possible cause for her illness. Parris also knew that there may be witchcraft because he was eyewitness of the dancing girls but he was not in favor of witchcraft trial because his post at church was at risk because people were already against him. When Parris asks from Abigail, she denies that she and the other girls were participating in witchcraft, but he suspects Abigail is lying
Mr. and Mrs. Putnam enter the room and reveal that their daughter Ruth is also ill because of witchcraft and Betty’s illness is surely due to witchcraft because there is spread rumor in the village of an evil spirit is in practice. They try to convince Parris that he should accept the presence of witchcraft, but he is worried and not ready to accept it but says people only want to remove him from the post.
Abigail warns Mercy Lewis, the Putnam’s servant, and Mary Warren, the Proctors’ servant, not to tell the truth that all the girls in the woods were casting spells. Betty wakes for a while. Abigail tells her that Parris saw them dancing in the woods. Betty requests her not to tell that she drank blood. Abigail threatens the other two girls if they reveal to anyone about the spell that Betty drank blood and cast a spell to kill Goody Proctor. Betty becomes unconscious again.
John Proctor and Abigail are alone with Betty and they talk privately about their former relationship. Prior to the opening of the play, Abigail was a servant in the Proctor home. Proctor and Abigail were in love affairs when this affair was discovered by Elizabeth Proctor, Proctor’s wife, she dismissed Abigail. During their discussion, Abigail becomes angry when she asks him if he has come to see her but he refuses to acknowledge any feelings for her.
Betty begins screaming when she wakes. She is in hysterical condition. The Rebecca Nurse, a well –respected woman is Salem, visits Parris home and calms her. Foreseeing, Rebecca cautions Parris that if he accepts witchcraft as the cause of Betty’s unconsciousness, it will set a dangerous example and lead to more such evil spirit problems in the town. Mr. Putnam requests Rebecca to visit Ruth and try to wake her. . Putnam announces that witchcraft is to blame for the illness because they lose their seven infant children. That’s why Mrs. Putnam shows hostility towards Rebecca.
Giles Corey, Putnam and Proctor inquire about Parris’ salary and other prospects. Parris states that some people are working to drive him out of his post. They also argue over property and other ownerships belonging to Parris. Putnam also accuses Proctor of thieving that he steals wood from others land, but Proctor protects himself against charge, he clears that that he purchased the land five months ago from Francis Nurse. Putnam declares Francis had no right to the land and, therefore, it is not legal to sell it.
Reverend Hale arrives at Parris’ home from another town to know the cause of Betty’s illness and to investigate if there is an evil spirit there in Salem. He was an expert in witchcraft and summoned as to find if witchcraft is prevailing behind the children’s illnesses. Parris tells him that the girls were dancing in the woods at midnight with Tituba. Mrs. Putnam tells Hale that Tituba can conjure spirits. Hale questions Abigail and she blames Tituba for enticing them to sin. Hale then investigates Tituba, and she admits that she is working with the Devil. She also admits that she has seen Goody Good and Goody Osburn with the Devil. After Tituba’s confession, Abigail also admits that
She has given herself to Devil, stating that she has seen Goody Good and Goody Osburn with the Devil, she also blames Bridget Bishop for contact with Devil. Meanwhile, Betty wakes up and becomes conscious. She also claims that she saw Goody Howe and George Jacobs with the Devil. Act one ends with Betty and Abigail blaming individuals that they say they have seen with the Devil.
Summary of Act II
Act II begins at Proctor’s home. Eight days later, Proctor returns late from fields and Elizabeth claims that Proctor is late because he had gone to Salem to her former girlfriend Abigail. Proctor clears that he is striving to make her happy but she suspects him without any proof.
Elizabeth tells him that Mary Warren has been in Salem all day. Proctor says that I have already warned her not to go to Salem. Elizabeth informs him that Mary Warren has been appointed an official of the court by four magistrates who have been named to the General Court and the Deputy Governor of the Province is acting as the judge of the court. She further tells him that the court has jailed many people for witchcraft. Elizabeth tries to send Proctor to Salem and reveals that Abigail is a fake girl but Proctor hesitates. Elizabeth and Proctor argue. Proctor is angry because he believes Elizabeth becomes angry and blames him for being dishonest to his wife.
Mary Warren returns to home and tells Proctor that she will visit Salem every day because she is serving as an official of the court. She gives Elizabeth a doll (poppet) that Mary made when she was sitting in the courtroom. Mary Warren informs Proctor and Elizabeth thirty-nine people are charged with witchcraft and they are in jail. She also says that Goody Osburn will be hanged because of not confessing to witchcraft. Proctor is angry to hear it because he does not believe in the justice of the court . He believes that the court is condemning people without any solid evidence. She further tells Proctor that Abigail and other girls accused Elizabeth of witchcraft, but the court dismissed her name because Mary Warren defended her. Elizabeth has some kind of fear that tells Abigail wants to get rid of her. She believes that Abigail will accuse her and then have her executed. In this way Abigail will be able to take her place as Proctor’s wife. Elizabeth asks Proctor to talk to Abigail and clear her that there is no chance for her bad wishes of marrying to Proctor if something happened to Elizabeth.
Hale is at Proctor’s house and tells them that Elizabeth was named by the girls for witchcraft in the court. He questions Proctor about his poor attendance in church on Sunday. Procter replies that he could not attend church due to busy routines in the fields. Then Hale asks him to announce Ten Commandments but he only names nine and forgets the commandment forbidding adultery. Elizabeth helps him to remember the tenth one. Hale questions Elizabeth too to find out if she believes in witches. Proctor tells him that Abigail admitted to him that witchcraft was not responsible for the children’s ailments. Hale tells him that if he thinks that Abigail is fraud then he must justify his statement.
Giles Corey and Francis Nurse arrive at Proctor’s house and tell Proctor, Hale, and Elizabeth that the court has arrested Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey for witchcraft. Marshal Herrick and Cheever then arrive to arrest Elizabeth. Cheever tells that while Abigail was eating at Parris’ house, she was stabbed with a needle, and Abigail accused Elizabeth for stabbing a needle to murder her.
Cheever and others search the house and discover a doll (the poppet), with a needle stabbed in it. Mary Warren tells Hale that she sewed the poppet and stored the needle inside when she was sitting in the court. She also tells them that Abigail was sitting aside when she made the puppet and stored the needle in the puppet. However, Elizabeth was arrested and brought to jail. Proctor asks Mary Warren to justify against Abigail in the court but she fears testifying against Abigail and tells Proctor that Abigail and the others will turn against her.
Summary of Act III
The court convicts Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey of witchcraft. Giles Corey approaches the court and tells that he has evidence that Putnam is accusing others of witchcraft just to obtain their land. After reading Giles Corey’s deposition against Putnam, Danforth asks Putnam about Corey’s accusations that Putnam is prompting his daughter to falsely accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft. Danforth tells him that Corey claims that Putnam wants Jacobs to hang, because he wants to purchase Jacobs’ land once it becomes available after losing all property rights. Putnam is the only man who has enough money to purchase Jacobs’ land. Putnam denies Corey’s charge. Danforth demands proof from Corey but he refuses to name the witness who overheard Putnam. The court arrests Corey for blaming Putnam and dishonoring the court.
Mary Warren and Proctor enter the vestry room. Proctor handovers Mary Warren’s signed deposition to Danforth that Mary Warren did not see spirits but Danforth refuses to accept. Danforth asks Mary Warren about the spirits that she saw. Mary tells him that she only pretended to see spirits like all the other girls just to save herself from hanging.
Proctor declares that the court is condemning innocent people only on the basis of little girl’s accusations. Judge Danforth informs Proctor that Elizabeth states that she is pregnant. The court physically examined her and could not find any symptom to prove her statement. Proctor tells him that Elizabeth will never lie. Judge Danforth agrees to postpone Elizabeth’s punishment for one more year because of her pregnancy.
Proctor gives Danforth a testament that is signed by ninety-one people stating that Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey are good and honest women. Parris argues that the court should summon all these people because they believe the court is unjust.
Mary Warren tells the court that she pretended with other girls to see spirits and falsely accused others. She divulges that all the girls including Abigail are also lying. Abigail denies her charge. Abigail cries and other girls also falsely pretend in the court that Mary Warren is sending out her spirit against them to tease them.
Proctor denies Abigail’s charge against Mary Warren, calling Abigail a lying whore. Proctor informs the court his adultery affair with Abigail when she was their servant. He further adds that Abigail is lying in order to have Elizabeth Proctor executed, so providing herself with a chance to marry him.
Proctor tells the court that Elizabeth is honest and never tells a lie. The court wants to testify against Elizabeth and summons her and questions her about the affair of her husband with Abigail. Judge Danforth asks Elizabeth why she dismissed Abigail as her servant. Proctor and Elizabeth were standing in such a position that the face of both was facing the opposite direction when questioning. Elizabeth lies in order to save her husband, concealing Proctor and Abigail’s affair and she was not aware that her husband had already confessed it. Elizabeth was moved to jail for lying. Danforth asks Proctor if he is in contact with the Devil but he denies. Proctor was taken under arrest. Hale denounces the proceedings and leaves the court.
Summary of Act IV
Act IV begins in the Salem jail. Herrick wakes up Tituba and Sarah Good to move them to a different cell. Tituba and Sarah say to Herrick that they are waiting for the Devil to fly to Barbados with the Devil. Abigail again claims that Mary Warren is attacking her. Mary Warren still denies her confession. Abigail charges John Proctor as the Devil’s man in order to take revenge from Proctor and Elizabeth.
Parris summons Hathorne and Danforth and tells them that Hale is trying to convince the prisoners to confess witchcraft in order to save their lives. Parris also tells that Abigail has disappeared and Mercy Lewis is also with her. Parris is worried because the people of Salem will throw him out the court, as the people in Andover did. He further tells Danforth about the townspeople’s views that they are not happy about the imminent execution of John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. He tries to convince Judge Danforth to postpone the executions until Hale is successful in convincing the prisoner to confess witchcraft but Danforth does not agree with his opinion or views of the people.
Hale informs Danforth that he tried a lot to convince but none of the prisoners is ready to confess. Then Hale asks Judge Danforth to pardon the seven prisoners condemned to death punishment, or allow them some more time to convince them to confess their crime. Danforth refuses his proposal. Hale summons Elizabeth and requests her to convince her husband Proctor to confess his guilt so he could live his life instead of hanging. Elizabeth is not ready but later on she agrees to speak with him. Proctor and Elizabeth discuss how the court is condemning people. They talk about their children and the child Elizabeth carries. Proctor is not ready to confess because he wants to keep his name though he tells her that he is considering confessing.
He asks Elizabeth if she will respect him if he does because confessing was a not easy to live in that society. Elizabeth tells that it is his decision, and she has forgiven him for the affair. Elizabeth realizes that there is her own fault also because she has been a cold, suspicious wife in response to her own insecurities.
Proctor confesses to witchcraft orally, but he does not name anyone else. Danforth asks him for proof. He says that the court wants evidence of his confession in the form of a written statement signed by him. Proctor again confesses verbally to witchcraft, and Rebecca Nurse is shocked to hear his confession and she still declines to confess to witchcraft. Proctor signs his name to the confession and when he thinks for his future and his children’s father identity, he destroys the document because the court will post it on the church door. The authorities of the court take Proctor out of the prison toward the gallows. Hale implores Elizabeth to persuade her husband to confess but this time Elizabeth refuses.
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