Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, is one of the greatest plays of all time. It is a four act tragedy, that must be seen or read by all actors. There is a good film version with Daniel Day-Lewis, but nothing beats seeing a great theatre production.
The Crucible Synopsis
Salem, Massachusetts, 1682 — Local minister Reverend Parris has summoned witchcraft expert Reverend John Hale to his house to examine his unconscious and unresponsive daughter Betty, amid rumours that witchcraft is present in the Puritan village. Parris confronts his niece and ward Abigail, after catching the two girls in the woods with his slave Tituba, intoning over the fire while the girls and their friends danced.
Abigail swears it was innocent, and Betty only fainted at being discovered by her father. She silences the other girls by threatening violence if they tell the full truth.
The Putnams’ daughter Ruth has also fallen ill, and they believe witchcraft is to blame.
Local farmer John Proctor, in a private moment with Abigail, reveals that while Abigail was employed in the Proctor house, the two carried on an affair. When Elizabeth found out, she fired Abigail. Abigail still hungers for John, but he wants no part of it. Abigail admits that she and Betty are only pretending, and he urges her to stop the charade.
Conversation among the men in the house reveals a town beset with division over land and money.
When Abigail accuses Tituba of making her drink blood in the woods, Tituba admits to Parris and Hale that she summoned the Devil, and makes claims that several people in the Salem community commune with him. Abigail and Betty join her, naming several townsfolk as witches.
At home, Elizabeth prods John to expose Abigail’s fraud. When he will not, she accuses him of still having feelings for Abigail. Mary Warren, their servant and a member of Abigail’s circle, arrives with news that Elizabeth has been accused of witchcraft, but that Mary successfully defended her. However, Giles Corey and Thomas Putnam bring news that their wives have been arrested, and the law arrives for Elizabeth. Proctor insists that Mary Warren testify against Abigail and the others.
Judge Danforth reveals to John that Elizabeth is pregnant, and will be spared, at least until the child arrives. Unmoved, Proctor will not be satisfied unless Mary testifies. She speaks against Abigail and the girls, but when they are brought in, Abigail leads the charge that Mary has bewitched them.
John exposes his affair with Abigail, telling the court she is motivated by jealousy against Elizabeth, a claim that Abigail then denies. Danforth summons Elizabeth to confirm the story, but unaware that her husband has exposed the affair, she lies to protect him, and Danforth pronounces John a liar.
Unable to withstand the pressure of the girls’ claims Mary reverses her story, naming Proctor himself as a witch. He is arrested and taken away. Reverend Hale refuses to remain a part of the proceedings.
By autumn, Abigail has run with Parris’ money, and Hale tries to convince the accused to enter false confessions and be spared. They will not. Danforth convinces Elizabeth to speak with John, and she moves him to confess, despite his misgivings, but when it is revealed that the confession will be publicly displayed, his anger mounts, and he takes back the confession, ensuring that he will end his life at the gallows.
Elizabeth Proctor – John’s wife
Reverend John Hale –
Reverend Samuel Parris – Salem’s minister
Tituba – Parris’ slave
Judge John Hathorne
Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth
Giles Corey – Friend of John Proctor
Rebecca Nurse – wife of Francis Nurse.