Act I: Opening scene to the entrance of John Proctor
In the town of Salem in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, where rumors of witchcraft abound, the paranoid Reverend Parris confronts his niece Abigail Williams about dancing in the woods with his slave Tituba, and whether their activities led to his daughter Betty becoming bewitched. Thomas Putnam and his wife arrive, telling Parris that their daughter has also fallen ill, and urging Parris to announce to the town that witchcraft has been discovered. Betty wakes up while Mary Warren and Abigail are in her room and is subsequently slapped after claiming that Abigail did not tell Parris everything.
Act I: The entrance of John Proctor to the entrance of Reverend Hale
John Proctor meets the girls in the Parris home and reprimands Mary for disobeying his orders, and his affair with Abigail is revealed. Parris, Mercy, and the Putnams rush to Betty’s room after hearing her scream, and Rebecca Nurse suggests that her ailment is a result of overstimulation. After discussing what to do about the rumors of witchcraft in the town, Parris, Giles Corey, and Proctor, and Putnam bicker about various land and property rights.
Act I: The entrance of Reverend Hale to the closing scene
Reverend Hale arrives and questions Proctor, Giles, Parris, Mrs. Putnam, and Abigail about the claims of witchcraft. Tituba is then brought into the room, claiming that even though the devil promised her freedom and her return home, someone else is bewitching the girls. Abigail, with Betty now awake, begins accusing girls of being witches.
Mary Warren returns home from the trials, at which point 39 people have been accused, and she gives Elizabeth a doll as a gift. Hale visits the Proctor home and tests their faith, and Elizabeth tells Hale that Abigail revealed that the sickness has nothing to do with witchcraft. After Giles and Francis arrive to tell Proctor that their wives have been accused, Ezekiel Cheever and the town marshal Herrick enter with an arrest warrant for Elizabeth who has been accused of witchcraft as well.
Judge Hawthorne, Deputy Governor Danforth, and Reverend Hale convene with Giles and Francis after Giles interrupts the court proceedings by claiming that Putnam is attempting to grab more land. They are later joined by Proctor and Mary, the latter of whom testifies that the claims of witchcraft were all a ruse manipulated by Abigail. When Abigail is brought to answer for Mary’s claim, Abigail asserts that Mary is casting a spell on them, and is struck by Proctor, in turn revealing the reason why Abigail was fired was because Elizabeth discovered their infidelity. After Elizabeth fails to affirm Proctor’s story, Abigail and the rest of the girls begin wailing, and Proctor is arrested.
Reverend Hale returns to Salem in the Fall to convince the remaining prisoners to confess. He is able to persuade Elizabeth to speak with Proctor. Elizabeth tells Proctor of Cheever’s death and after much contemplation he agrees to sign a confession that will be hanged on the front of the church door. Proctor signs the confession but snatches the paper away and rips it apart, after which he and seven other prisoners are led to the gallows by Herrick.
Parris is eventually voted out of office and rumors imply that Abigail became a prostitute in Boston. The excommunications of the condemned are rescinded.