Arthur Miller’s play, ‘The Crucible’ is set in Salem, Massachusetts 1692 this time period in which Arthur Miller’s play is based upon was a time of great hysteria and relentless accusation. The play is based upon a group of young girls who were caught commencing the prohibited act of dancing; young and frightened they made the profoundly religious town believe in rumours of witchcraft; a lie which went too far. The play is closely linked to the events which unfolded at this time; Miller however adapts some events and characters to create a thrilling and tense tragedy for the audience to indulge in.
‘The Crucible’ commences with Reverend Paris, the local minster of the village, kneeling beside his daughter Betty. The girl lays seemingly unconscious whilst a crowd begins to form around her. Tthe crowd is made up of several young girls; amongst them is the Reverend’s niece, Abigail who becomes the source of questioning of Betty’s insentient state. The audience is made known to the events which had inaugurated before the gathering. The girls had been caught by Reverend Paris dancing in the forest with their black slave Tituba, an illegal act which had instigated the gathering in the first place. The bewildering collapse of Betty arouses intense suspicion of witchcraft amongst the villagers although Abigail refuses to admit to anything but dancing in the forest.
The topic of conversation between the Reverend and Abigail diverts as to why she was released from the services of Villagers John and Elizabeth Proctor; he hints at an indignity of rumours which had circulated around the Village regarding this release. In this beginning of the act the audience is introduced to the bases of the play, as well as giving them an introduction to some of the characters, mainly Reverend Paris. The audience is given an insight through the shown conversations into Paris’s character; we learn that he believes himself to have several enemies throughout the village as well as learning that he fears for his position of authority amongst the villagers. We are also given an introduction to the character of Abigail, we learn that she has a past which are not yet exposed to, as well as learning that she seems to be the leader of the formed group of girls, and she is seemed to be stubborn and somewhat bothered.