Books and Movies Reviews

the crucible

The Crucible, a historical play based on events of the Salem witchcraft trials, takes place in the small Puritan village in the colony of Massachusetts in 1692. The witchcraft trials, as Miller explains in a prose prologue to the play, grew out of the particular moral system of the Puritans, which promoted interference in others’ affairs as well as a repressive code of conduct that frowned on any diversion from norms of behavior.
The play begins in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, whose daughter, Betty, lays ill. Parris lives with his daughter and his seventeen-year old niece, Abigail Williams, an orphan who witnessed her parents’ murder by the Indians. Parris has sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, believing his daughter’s illness stems from supernatural explanations. Betty became ill when her father discovered her dancing in the woods with Abigail, Tituba (the Parris’ slave from Barbados) and several other local girls. Already there are rumors that Betty’s illness is due to witchcraft, but Parris tells Abigail that he cannot admit that he found his daughter and niece dancing like heathen in the forest. Abigail says that she will admit to dancing and accept the punishment, but will not admit to witchcraft. Abigail and Parris discuss rumors about the girls: when they were dancing one of the girls was naked, and Tituba was screeching gibberish. Parris also brings up rumors that Abigail’s former employ!
er, Elizabeth Proctor, believes that Abby is immoral.
Thomas and Ann Putnam arrive and tell Parris that their daughter, Ruth, is sick. Ann Putnam admits that she sent Ruth to Tituba, for Tituba knows how to speak to the dead and could find out who murdered her seven children, each of whom died during infancy. When the adults leave, Abigail discusses Betty’s illness with Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren, the servants of the Putnams and the Proctors, respectively. Abigail threatens them, warning them not to say anything more than that …


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