The opening narrative explains the context of Salem and the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts, which the storyteller portrays as an isolated theocratic society in constant conflict with Native Americans. The storyteller speculates that the absence of civil liberties, isolation from civilization, and lack of stability in the colony triggered latent internal tensions which would add to the events portrayed in the play.
The rest of Act One is embeded in the attic of regional preacher Reverend Samuel Parris. His ten-year-old daughter, Betty Parris, lies motionless. The previous evening, Reverend Parris discovered Betty, some other girls, and his Barbadian servant, Tituba, dancing naked in the forest and taken part in some sort of pagan ritual. The town is rife with reports of witchcraft and a crowd gathers outside Rev. Parris’ home. Parris becomes worried that the occasion will trigger him to be removed from his position as the town’s preacher. He questions the ladies’ obvious ringleader, his niece Abigail Williams, whom Parris has been forced to adopt after her parents were extremely killed in King Philip’s War. Abigail rejects they were engaged in witchcraft, claiming that they had actually been dancing. Afterwards, the rich and prominent Thomas Putnam and his spouse, Ann show up. At the Putnams’ prompting, Parris hesitantly exposes that he has actually invited Reverend John Hale, a specialist in witchcraft and demonology, to investigate and leaves to resolve the crowd.
The other women associated with the event sign up with Abigail and a briefly roused Betty, who attempts to jump out of the window. Abigail persuades and threatens the others to “stay with their story” of simply dancing in the woods. The other girls are frightened of the reality being exposed (in reality, they tried to conjure a curse versus Elizabeth Proctor) and being labelled witches, so they accompany Abigail. Betty then faints back into unconsciousness.
John Proctor, a local farmer and husband of Elizabeth, enters. He sends out the other ladies out (consisting of Mary Warren, his household’s house maid) and faces Abigail, who tells him that she and the girls were not carrying out witchcraft. It is exposed that Abigail when worked as a servant for the Proctors, which she and John had an affair, for which she was fired. Abigail still harbors sensations for John and believes they are reciprocated, but John rejects this. Abigail angrily mocks John for rejecting his real feelings for her. As they argue, psalm is sung in the room downstairs, Betty bolts upright and begins screaming.
Rev. Parris runs back into the bedroom and numerous villagers show up: the wealthy and prominent Thomas and his wife, Ann Putnam, appreciated regional woman Rebecca Nurse, and the Putnam’s next-door neighbor, farmer Giles Corey. The villagers, who had actually not heard the argument, assume that the singing of a psalm by the villagers in a space listed below had caused Betty’s screaming. Tensions in between them quickly emerge. Mrs. Putnam is a bereaved moms and dad seven times over; she blames witchcraft for her losses and Betty’s disorder. Rebecca is reasonable and recommends a doctor be called rather. Mr. Putnam and Corey have been feuding over land ownership. Parris is unhappy with his salary and living conditions as minister, and accuses Proctor of heading a conspiracy to oust him from the church. Abigail, standing quietly in a corner, witnesses all of this.
Reverend Hale arrives and begins his investigation. Before leaving, Giles fatefully mentions that he has actually discovered his partner reading unknown books and asks Hale to check out it. Hale concerns Rev. Parris, Abigail and Tituba carefully over the girls’ activities in the woods. As the facts emerge, Abigail declares Tituba required her to drink blood. Tituba counters that Abigail asked her to conjure a lethal curse. Parris threatens to whip Tituba to death if she does not confess to witchcraft. Tituba breaks down and wrongly declares that the Devil is bewitching her and others in the area. With triggering from Hale and Putnam, Tituba implicates Sarah Osborne and Sarah Good of witchcraft. Mrs. Putnam identifies Osborne as her previous midwife and asserts that she must have killed her children. Abigail chooses to play along with Tituba in order to prevent others from discovering her affair with Proctor, whose other half she had actually attempted to curse out of jealousy. She leaps up, starts twisting wildly, and names Osborne and Excellent, as well as Bridget Bishop as having been “dancing with the devil”. Betty all of a sudden increases and starts simulating Abigail’s movements and words, and accuses George Jacobs. As the curtain closes, the three continue with their allegations as Hale orders the arrest of the named individuals and sends for judges to try them.
In a 2nd narrative, the storyteller compares the Nest to post-World War II society, presenting Puritan fundamentalism as resembling cultural norms in both the United States and the Soviet Union. In addition, fears of Satanism taking place after occurrences in Europe and the nests are compared to fears of Communism following its application in Eastern Europe and China throughout the Cold War. (Once again, narration not present in all variations).
The rest of Act Two is embeded in the Proctors’ house. John and Elizabeth are incredulous that nearly forty people have been jailed for witchcraft based on the pronouncements of Abigail and the other women. John knows their apparent ownership and accusations of witchcraft are untrue, as Abigail informed him as much when they were alone together in the very first act, however is unsure of how to admit without revealing the affair. Elizabeth is perturbed to learn her spouse was alone with Abigail. She thinks John still starves after Abigail and tells him that as long as he does, he will never redeem himself.
Mary Warren enters and offers Elizabeth a ‘poppet’ (doll-like puppet) that she made in court that day while sitting as a witness. Mary tells that thirty-nine have actually been jailed up until now implicated as witches, and they may be hanged. Mary also tells that Goody Osburn will be hanged, but Sarah Good’s life is safe due to the fact that she admitted she made a compact with Lucifer( Devil) to torment Christians. Angered that Mary is ignoring her responsibilities, John threatens to beat her. Mary retorts that she is now an official in the court, she needs to have to go there on daily basis and she saved Elizabeth’s life that day, as Elizabeth was accused of witchcraft and was to be apprehended up until Mary spoke in her defense. Mary refuses to determine Elizabeth’s accuser, but Elizabeth surmises accurately that it needs to have been Abigail. She implores John to go to court and tell the judges that Abigail and the rest of the ladies are pretending. John hesitates, fearing that doing so will require him to openly expose his past infidelity.
Reverend Hale shows up, stating that he is talking to all the people named in the proceedings, consisting of Elizabeth. He discusses that Rebecca Nurse was likewise named, however admits that he doubts her a witch due to her extreme piousness, though he stresses that anything is possible. Hale is hesitant about the Proctors’ devotion to Christianity, noting that they do not go to church regularly which on of their 3 boys has actually not yet been baptized; John responds that this is since he has no regard for Parris. Challenged to recite the 10 Rules, John fatefully forgets “thou shalt not devote infidelity”. When Hale concerns her, Elizabeth is angered that he does not question Abigail first. Uncertain of how to continue, Hale prepares to take his leave. At Elizabeth’s advising, John informs Hale he understands that the woman’s conditions are fake. When Hale responds that a number of the implicated have actually admitted, John mentions that they were bound to be hanged if they did not; Hale reluctantly acknowledges this point.
All Of A Sudden, Giles Corey and Francis Nurse go into the house and notify John and Hale that both of their other halves have actually been jailed on charges of witchcraft; Martha Corey for reading suspicious books and Rebecca Nurse on charges of compromising kids. A posse led by clerk Ezekiel Cheever and town marshal George Herrick show up quickly afterwards and provide a warrant for Elizabeth’s arrest, much to Hale’s surprise. Cheever gets the poppet on Elizabeth’s table and finds a needle inside. He informs John that Abigail had a pain-induced fit previously that night and a needle was found penetrated her stomach; Abigail claimed that Elizabeth stabbed her with the needle through witchcraft, utilizing a poppet as a conduit. John brings Mary into the space to inform the reality; Mary asserts that she made the doll and stuck the needle into it, and that Abigail saw her do so. Cheever is unconvinced and prepares to jail Elizabeth.
John becomes considerably irate, tearing the arrest warrant to shreds and threatening Herrick and Cheever with a musket until Elizabeth relaxes him down and surrenders herself. He calls Hale a coward and asks him why the accusers’ every utterance goes unchallenged. Hale is conflicted, but recommends that possibly this misery has befallen Salem since of a terrific, secret criminal activity that needs to be exposed. Taking this to heart, John orders Mary to go to court with him and expose the other girls’ lies, and she objects emphatically. Familiar with John’s affair, she cautions him that Abigail is willing to expose it if required. John is stunned however identifies the fact should dominate, whatever the individual cost.
The third act takes place thirty-seven days later in the General Court of Salem, during the trial of Martha Corey. Francis and Giles frantically interrupt the proceedings, demanding to be heard. The court is recessed and the guys thrown out of the main space, reconvening in a surrounding room. John Proctor arrives with Mary Warren and they inform Deputy Governor Danforth and Judge Hathorne about the ladies’ lies. Danforth then notifies an unaware John that Elizabeth is pregnant, and assures to spare her from execution until the child is born, wanting to persuade John to withdraw his case. John declines to pull back and submits a deposition signed by ninety-one locals attesting to the good character of Elizabeth, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey. Herrick likewise attests to John’s truthfulness as well.
The deposition is dismissed by Parris and Hathorne as illegal. Rev. Hale slams the choice and needs to know why the accused are forbidden to defend themselves. Danforth replies that given the “unnoticeable nature” of witchcraft, the word of the implicated and their supporters can not be trusted. He then orders that all ninety-one individuals called in the deposition be arrested for questioning. Giles Corey submits his own deposition, accusing Thomas Putnam of requiring his daughter to accuse George Jacobs in order to purchase up his land (as founded guilty witches need to surrender all of their property). When asked to reveal the source of his details, Giles declines, fearing that he or she will likewise be jailed. When Danforth threatens him with arrest for contempt, Giles argues that he can not be jailed for “contempt of a hearing.” Danforth then declares the court in session and Giles is apprehended.
John sends Mary’s deposition, which states that she was persuaded to accuse people by Abigail. Abigail rejects Mary’s assertions that they are pretending, and waits her story about the poppet. When challenged by Parris and Hathorne to ‘pretend to be possessed’, Mary is too afraid to comply. John attacks Abigail’s character, revealing that she and the other girls were captured dancing naked in the woods by Rev. Parris on the night of Betty Parris’ alleged ‘bewitchment’. When Danforth begins to question Abigail, she declares that Mary has started to bewitch her with a cold wind and John loses his temper, calling Abigail a whore. He admits their affair, states Abigail was fired from his household over it which Abigail is trying to murder Elizabeth so that she might “dance with me on my partner’s grave.”
Danforth brings Elizabeth in to validate this story, ahead of time forbidding anybody to inform her about John’s testament. Uninformed of John’s public confession, Elizabeth fears that Abigail has actually revealed the affair in order to challenge John and lies, stating that there was no affair, and that she fired Abigail out of wild suspicion. Hale asks Danforth to reassess his judgement, now concurring Abigail is “incorrect”, but to no get; Danforth tosses out this testimony based entirely upon John’s earlier assertion that Elizabeth would never inform a lie.
Confusion and hysteria start to overtake the room. Abigail and the ladies run about screaming, claiming Mary’s spirit is attacking them in the type of a yellow bird, which nobody else has the ability to see. When Danforth tells the increasingly troubled Mary that he will sentence her to hang, she accompanies the other ladies and recants all her accusations against them, declaring John Proctor required her to turn her against the others and that he harbors the devil. John, in anguish and having actually quit all hope, states that “God is dead”, and is apprehended. Furious, Reverend Hale knocks the procedures and stops the court.
Act Four occurs three months later in the town jail, early in the early morning. Tituba, sharing a cell with Sarah Good, appears to have actually gone outrageous from all of the hysteria, hearing voices and now in fact claiming to speak to Satan. Marshal Herrick, depressed at having actually apprehended many of his next-door neighbors, has turned to alcoholism. Lots of villagers have actually been charged with witchcraft; a lot of have confessed and been provided lengthy jail terms and their property seized by the federal government; twelve have been hanged; seven more are to be hanged at daybreak for refusing to admit, consisting of John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey. Giles Corey was tortured to death by pressing as the court tried in vain to extract a plea; by holding out, Giles ensured that his children would receive his land and belongings. The village has become dysfunctional with numerous people in prison or dead, and with the arrival of news of disobedience against the courts in nearby Andover, whispers are plentiful of an uprising in Salem. Abigail, afraid of the effects, steals Parris’s life cost savings and vanishes on a ship to England with Grace Lewis.
Danforth and Hathorne have actually gone back to Salem to consult with Parris, and are shocked to find out that Hale has actually returned and is consulting with the condemned. Parris, who has actually lost everything to Abigail, reports that he has received death threats. He begs Danforth to delay the executions in order to secure confessions, intending to prevent performing some of Salem’s many well-regarded residents. Hale, deeply remorseful and blaming himself for the hysteria, has returned to counsel the condemned to falsely confess and prevent execution. He presses Danforth to pardon the remaining seven and put the whole affair behind them. Danforth declines, stating that pardons or post ponement would cast doubt on the accuracy of previous confessions and hangings.
Danforth and Hale summon Elizabeth and ask her to persuade John to confess. She is bitter towards Hale, both for doubting her earlier and for wanting John to give in and destroy his good name, however consents to consult with her spouse, if just to say goodbye. She and John have a prolonged discussion, throughout which she applauds him for holding out and not confessing. John states he is refusing to admit not out of spiritual conviction however through contempt for his accusers and the court. The two finally fix up, with Elizabeth flexible John and saddened by the thought that he can not forgive himself and see his own goodness. Understanding in his heart that it is the wrong thing for him to do, John accepts wrongly admit to participating in witchcraft, choosing that he has no desire or right to be a martyr.
Danforth, Hathorne, and a relieved Parris ask John to affirm to the guilt of the other hold-outs and the executed. John declines, stating he can only report on his own sins. Danforth is dissatisfied by this unwillingness, but at the prompting of Hale and Parris, permits John to sign a written confession, to be shown on the church door as an example. John bewares, believing his verbal confession is sufficient. As they push him further John ultimately signs, but refuses to hand the paper over, specifying he does not desire his household and particularly his 3 boys to be stigmatized by the public confession. The guys argue until Proctor renounces his confession totally, ripping up the signed file. Danforth calls for the sheriff and John is led away, to be hanged. Dealing with an impending disobedience, Putnam and Parris desperately went out to ask Proctor to admit. Hale, guilty over John’s death, pleads with Elizabeth to talk John around however she declines, mentioning John has “found his goodness”.