A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem, Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692



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Proctor, familiarly, with warmth, although he knows he is approaching the edge of GilesL tolerance with this: Is it the DevilNs fault that a man cannot say you good morning without you clap him for defamation? YouNre old, Giles, and youNre not hearinN so well as you did.

Giles - he cannot be crossed: John Proctor, I have only last month collected four pound damages for you publicly sayinN I burned the roof off your house, and I -

Act One Proctor: Against you? PutNAM: Against him and all authority! PRoctoR: Why, then I must find it and join it.



There is shock among the others. Rebecca: He does not mean that. Putnam: He confessed it now!

31

Proctor: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; I like not the smell of this Kauthority.M



Rebecca: No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace.

Proctor: I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home. He goes angrily to the door and turns to Corey with a smile. What say you, Giles, letNs find the party. He says thereNs a party.

Giles: INve changed my opinion of this man, John. Mr. Parris, I beg your pardon. I never thought you had so much iron in you.

Parris, Surprised: Why, thank you, Giles!

Giles: It suggests to the mind what the trouble be among us all these years. To all: Think on it. Wherefore is everybody suing everybody else? Think on it now, itNs a deep thing, and dark as a pit. I have been six time in court this year -

Proctor, familiarly, with warmth, although he knows he is approaching the edge of GilesL tolerance with this: Is it the DevilNs fault that a man cannot say you good morning without you clap him for defamation? YouNre old, Giles, and youNre not hearinN so well as you did.

GILEs - he cannot be crossed: John Proctor, I have only last month collected four pound damages for you publicly sayinN I burned the roof off your house, and I -

32 The Crucible

Proctor, laughing: I never said no such thing, but INve paid you for it, so I hope I can call you deaf without charge. Now come along, Giles, and help me drag my lumber home.

PuTNAM: A moment, Mr. Proctor. What lumber is that youNre dragginN, if I may ask you?

Proctor: My lumber. From out my forest by the riverside.

Putnam: Why, we are surely gone wild this year. What anarchy is this? That tract is in my bounds, itNs in my bounds, Mr. Proctor.

Proctor: In your bounds! indicating Rebecca: I bought that tract from Goody NurseNs husband five months ago.

PuTNAM: He had no right to sell it. It stands clear in my grand-fatherNs will that all the land between the river and -

Proctor: Your grandfather had a habit of willing land that never belonged to him, if I may say it plain.

Giles: ThatNs GodNs truth; he nearly willed away my north pasture but he knew INd break his fingers before heNd set his name to it. LetNs get your lumber home, John. I feel a sudden will to work coming on.

Putnam: You load one oak of mine and youNll fight to drag it home!

GiLEs: Aye, and weNll win too, Putnam - this fool and I. Come on! He turns to Proctor and starts out.

Putnam: INll have my men on you, Corey! INll clap a writ on you!

Enter Reverend John Hale of Beverly.

Mr. Hale is nearing forty, a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intel-lectual. This is a beloved errand for him; on being called here

Act One

33

to ascertain witchcraft he felt the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for. Like almost all men of learning, he spent a good deal of his time pondering the invisible world, especially since he had himself encountered a witch in his parish not long before. That woman, however, turned into a mere pest under his searching scrutiny, and the child she had allegedly been afflicting recovered her normal behavior after Hale had given her his kindness and a few days of rest in his own house. However, that experience never raised a doubt in his mind as to the reality of the under-world or the existence of LuciferNs many-faced lieutenants. And his belief is not to his discredit. Better minds than HaleNs were - and still are - convinced that there is a society of spirits beyond our ken. One cannot help noting that one of his lines has never yet raised a laugh in any audience that has seen this play; it is his assurance that K,We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise.M Evidently we are not quite certain even now whether diabolism is holy and not to be scoffed at. And it is no accident that we should be so bemused.



Like Reverend Hale and the others on this stage, we conceive the Devil as a necessary part of a respectable view of cosmology. Ours is a divided empire in which certain ideas and emotions and actions are of God, and their opposites are of Lucifer. It is as impossible for most men to conceive of a morality without sin as of an earth without Ksky.M Since 1692 a great but super-ficial change has wiped out GodNs beard and the DevilNs horns, but the world is still gripped between two diametrically opposed absolutes. The concept of unity, in which positive and negative are attributes of the same force, in which good and evil are relative, ever-changing, and always joined to the same phenom-enon - such a concept is still reserved to the physical sciences and to the few who have grasped the history of ideas. When it is recalled that until the Christian era the underworld was never regarded as a hostile area, that all gods were useful and es-sentially friendly to man despite occasional lapses; when we

34 The Crucible

see the steady and methodical inculcation into humanity of the idea of manNs worthlessness - until redeemed - the necessity of the Devil may become evident as a weapon, a weapon designed and used time and time again in every age to whip men into a surrender to a particular church or church-state.

Our difficulty in believing the - for want of a better word - political inspiration of the Devil is due in great part to the fact that he is called up and damned not only by our social antagonists but by our own side, whatever it may be. The Catholic Church, through its Inquisition, is famous for culti-vating Lucifer as the arch-fiend, but the ChurchNs enemies relied no less upon the Old Boy to keep the human mind enthralled. Luther was himself accused of alliance with Hell, and he in turn accused his enemies. To complicate matters further, he believed that he had had contact with the Devil and had argued theology with him. I am not surprised at this, for at my own university a professor of history - a Lutheran, by the way - used to as-semble his graduate students, draw the shades, and commune in the classroom with Erasmus. He was never, to my knowledge, officially scoffed at for this, the reason being that the university officials, like most of us, are the children of a history which still sucks at the DevilNs teats. At this writing, only England has held back before the temptations of contemporary diabolism. In the countries of the Communist ideology, all resistance of any import is linked to the totally malign capitalist succubi, and in America any man who is not reactionary in his views is open to the charge of alliance with the Red hell. Political opposition, thereby, is given an inhumane overlay which then justifies the abrogation of all normally applied customs of civilized inter-course. A political policy is equated with moral right, and opposition to it with diabolical malevolence. Once such an equation is effectively made, society becomes a congerie of plots and counterplots, and the main role of government changes from that of the arbiter to that of the scourge of God.

The results of this process are no different now from what

Act One


35

they ever were, except sometimes in the degree of cruelty inflicted, and not always even in that department. Normally the actions and deeds of a man were all that society felt com-fortable in judging, The secret intent of an action was left to the ministers, priests, and rabbis to deal with. When diabolism rises, however, actions are the least important manifests of the true nature of a man. The Devil, as Reverend Hale said, is a wily one, and, until an hour before he fell, even God thought him beautiful in Heaven.

The analogy, however, seems to falter when one considers that, while there were no witches then, there are Communists and capitalists now, and in each camp there is certain proof that spies of each side are at work undermining the other. But this is a snobbish objection and not at all warranted by the facts. I have no doubt that people were communing with, and even worshiping, the Devil in Salem, and if the whole truth could be known in this case, as it is in others, we should dis-cover a regular and conventionalized' propitiation of the dark spirit, One certain evidence of this is the confession of Tituba, the slave of Reverend Parris, and another is the behavior of the, children who were known to have indulged in sorceries with her.

There are accounts of similar klatches in Europe, where the daughters of the towns would assemble at night and, sometimes with fetishes, sometimes with a selected young man, give them-selves to love, with some bastardly results. The Church, sharp-eyed as it must be when gods long dead are brought to life, condemned these orgies as witchcraft and interpreted them, rightly, as a resurgence of the Dionysiac forces it had crushed long before. Sex, sin, and the. Devil were early linked, and so they continued to be in Salem, and are today. From all accounts there are no more puritanical mores in the world than those enforced by the Communists in Russia, where womenNs fashions, for instance, are as prudent and all-covering as any American Baptist would desire. The divorce laws lay a tremendous re-sponsibility on the father for the care of his children. Even the

36 The Crucible

laxity of divorce regulations in the early years of the revolution was undoubtedly a revulsion from the nineteenth -century Vic-torian immobility of marriage and the consequent hypocrisy that developed from it. If for no other reasons, a state so power-ful, so jealous of the uniformity of its citizens, cannot long toler-ate the atomization of the family. And yet, in American eyes at least, there remains the conviction that the Russian attitude toward women is lascivious. It is the Devil working again, just as he is working within the Slav who is shocked at the very idea of a womanNs disrobing herself in a burlesque show. Our opposites are always robed in sexual sin, and it is from this unconscious conviction that demonology gains both its attractive sensuality and its capacity to infuriate and frighten.

Coming into Salem now, Reverend Hale conceives of himself much as a young doctor on his first call. His painfully acquired armory of symptoms, catchwords, and diagnostic procedures are now to be put to use at last. The road from Beverly is unusually busy this morning, and he has passed a hundred rumors that make him smile at the ignorance of the yeomanry in this most precise science. He feels himself allied with the best minds of Europe - kings, philosophers, scientists, and ecclesiasts of all churches. His goal is light, goodness and its preservation, and he knows the exaltation of the blessed whose intelligence, sharpened by minute examinations of enormous tracts, is finally called upon to face what may be a bloody fight with the Fiend himself.

He appears loaded down with half a dozen heavy books. Hale: Pray you, someone take these!

. Parris, delighted: Mr. Hale! Oh! itNs good to see you again!



Taking some books: My, theyNre heavy!

Hale, setting down his books: They must be; they are weighted with authority.

Act One Parris, a little scared: Well, you do come prepared!

37

Hale: We shall need hard study if it comes to tracking down the Old Boy. Noticing Rebecca: You cannot be Rebecca Nurse?



Rebecca: I am, sir. Do you know me?

Hale: ItNs strange how I knew you, but I suppose you look as such a good soul should. We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly.

Parris: Do you know this gentleman? Mr. Thomas Putnam. And his good wife Ann.

Hale: Putnam! I had not expected such distinguished company,

sir.

Putnam, pleased: It does not seem to help us today, Mr. Hale. We look to you to come to our house and save our child.



Hale: Your child ails too?

Mrs. Putnam: Her soul, her soul seems flown away. She sleeps and yet she

walks...

PutNAM: She cannot eat.

Hale: Cannot eat! Thinks on it, Then, to Proctor and Giles Corey: Do you men have addicted children?

Parris: No, no, these are farmers. John Proctor -

Giles Corey: He donNt believe in witches.

Proctor, to Hale: I never spoke on witches one way or the other. Will you come, Giles?

Giles: No - no, John, I think not. I have some few queer questions of my own to ask this fellow.

Proctor: INve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr. Hale. I hope youNll leave some of it in Salem.

38 The Crucible

Proctor goes. Hale stands embarrassed for an instant.

Parris, quickly: Will you look at my daughter, sir? Leads Hale to the bed. She has tried to leap out the window; we discovered her this morning on the highroad, waving her arms as though sheNd fly.

Hale, narrowing his eyes. Tries to fly.

Putnam: She cannot bear to hear the LordNs name, Mr. Hale; thatNs a sure sign of witchcraft afloat.

Hale, holding up his hands: No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of hell upon her.

Parris: It is agreed, sir - it is agreed - we will abide by your judgment.

Hale: Good then. He goes to the bed, looks down at Betty. To Parris: Now, sir, what were your first warning of this strange-ness?

Parris: Why, sir - I discovered her - indicating Abigail - and my niece and ten or twelve of the other girls, dancing in the forest last night.

Hale, surprised: You permit dancing?

Parris: No, no, it were secret -

MRs. Putnam, unable to wait: Mr. ParrisNs slave has knowledge of conjurinN, sir.

Parris, to Mrs. Putnam: We cannot be sure of that, Goody Ann -

Mrs. Putnam, frightened, very softly: I know it, sir. I sent my child - she should learn from Tituba who murdered her sisters.

Act One


37

Parris, a little scared: Well, you do come prepared!

Hale: We shall need hard study if it comes to tracking down the Old Boy. Noticing Rebecca: You cannot be Rebecca Nurse?

Rebecca: I am, sir. Do you know me?

Hale: ItNs strange how I knew you, but I suppose you look as such a good soul should. We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly.

Parris: Do you know this gentleman? Mr. Thomas Putnam. And his good wife Ann. Hale: Putnam! I had not expected such distinguished company,

sir.

Putnam, pleased, It does not seem to help us today, Mr. Hale. We look to you to come to our house and save our child.



Hale: Your child ails too?

MRs. Putnam: Her soul, her soul seems flown away. She sleeps and yet she walks...

Putnam: She cannot eat.

Hale: Cannot eat! Thinks on it. Then, to Proctor and Giles Corey: Do you men have afflicted children?

Parris: No, no, these are farmers. John Proctor - Giles Corey: He donNt believe in witches.

Proctor to Hale: I never spoke on witches one way or the other. Will you come, Giles?

Giles: No - no, John, I think not. I have some few queer questions of my own to ask this fellow.

Proctor: INve heard you to be a sensible man, Mr. Hale. I hope youNll leave some of it in Salem.

38 The Crucible

Proctor goes. Hale stands embarrassed for an instant.

Parris, quickly: Will you look at my daughter, sir? Leads Hale to the bed. She has tried to leap out the window; we discovered her this morning on the highroad, waving her arms as though sheNd fly.

Hale, narrowing his eyes: Tries to fly.

Putnam: She cannot bear to hear the' LordNs name, Mr. Hale; thatNs a sure sign of witchcraft afloat.

Hale, holding up his hands: No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of hell upon her.

Parris: It is agreed, sir - it is agreed - we will abide by your judgment.

Hale: Good then. He goes to the bed, looks down at Betty. To Parris: Now, sir, what were your first warning of this strange-ness?

Parris: Why, sir - I discovered her - indicating Abigail - and my niece and ten or twelve of the other girls, dancing in the forest last night.

Hale, surprised: You permit dancing?

Parris: No, no, it were secret -

Mrs. Putnam, unable to wait: Mr. ParrisNs slave has knowledge of conjurinN, sir.

Parris, to Mrs. Putnam: We cannot be sure of that, Goody Ann -

Mrs. Putnam, frightened, very softly: I know it, sir. I sent my child - she should learn from Tituba who murdered her sisters.

Act One


39

Rebecca horrified: Goody Ann! You sent a child to conjure up the dead?

Mrs. Putnam: Let God blame me, not you, not you, Rebecca! INll not have you judging me any more! To Hale: Is it a natural work to lose seven children before they live a day?

Parris: Sssh!



Rebecca, with great pain, turns her face away. There is a pause.

Hale: Seven dead in childbirth.

Mrs. Putnam, softly: Aye. Her voice breaks; she looks up at him. Silence. Hale is impressed. Parris looks to him. He goes to his books, opens one, turns pages, then reads. All wait, avidly.

Parris, hushed: What book is that?

Mrs. Putnam: What's there, sir?

Hale, with a tasty love of intellectual pursuit: Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits - your incubi and succubi; your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day. Have no fear now - we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face! He starts for the bed.

Rebecca: Will it hurt the child, sir?

Hale: I cannot tell. If she is truly in the DevilNs grip we may have to rip and tear to get her free.

REBECCA: I think INll go, then. I am too old for this. She rises.

Parris, striving for conviction: Why, Rebecca, we may open up the boil of all our troubles today!

Rebecca: Let us hope for that. I go to God for you, sir.

40 The Crucible

Parris, with trepidation - and resentment: I hope you do not mean we go to Satan here! Slight pause.

Rebecca: I wish I knew. She goes out; they feel resentful of her note of moral superiority.



PuTNAM, abruptly: Come, Mr. Hale, letNs get on. Sit you here.

Giles: Mr. Hale, I have always wanted to ask a learned man - what signifies the readinN of strange books?

Hale: What books?

Giles: I cannot tell; she hides them, Hale; Who does this?

Giles: Martha, my wife. I have waked at night many a time and found her in a corner, readinN of a book. Now what do you make of that?

Hale: Why, thatNs not necessarily -

Giles: It discomfits me! Last night - mark this - I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly - mark this - I could pray again!

Old Giles must be spoken for, if only because his fate was to be so remarkable and so different from that of all the others. He was in his early eighties at this time, and was the most comical hero in the history. No man has ever been blamed for so much. If a cow was missed, the first thought was to look for her around CoreyNs house; a fire blazing up at night brought sus-picion of arson to his door. He didnNt give a hoot for public opinion, and only in his last years - after he had married Martha - did he bother much with the church. That she stopped his prayer is very probable, but he forgot to say that heNd only recently learned any prayers and it didnNt take much to make him stumble over them. He was a crank and a nuisance, but

Act One

41

withal a deeply innocent and brave man. In court once he was asked if it were true that he had been frightened by the strange behavior of a hog and had then said he knew it to be the Devil in an animalNs shape. KWhat frighted you?M he was asked. He forgot everything but the word Kfrighted,M and instantly replied, KI do not know that I ever spoke that word in my life,M



Hale: Ah! The stoppage of prayer - that is strange. INll speak further on that with you.

Giles: INm not sayinN sheNs touched the Devil, now, but INd admire to know what books she reads and why she hides them. ' SheNll not answer me, yL see.

Hale: Aye, weNll discuss it. To all: Now mark me, if the Devil is in her you will witness some frightful wonders in this room, so please to keep your wits about you. Mr. Putnam, stand close in case she flies. Now, Betty, dear, will you sit up? Putnam comes in closer, ready-handed. Hale sits Betty up, but she hangs limp in his hands. Hmmm. He observes her carefully. The others watch breathlessly. Can you hear me? I am John Hale, minister of Beverly. I have come to help you, dear. Do you remember my two little girls in Beverly? She does not stir in his hands.

Parris, in fright: How can it be the Devil? Why would he choose my house to strike? We have all manner of licentious . people in the village!

Hale: What victory would the Devil have to win a soul already bad? It is the best the Devil wants, and who is better than the minister?

Giles: ThatNs deep, Mr, Parris, deep, deep!

Paaris, with resolution now: Betty! Answer Mr. Hale! Betty! Hale: Does someone afflict you, child? It need not be a woman, mind you, or a man. Perhaps some bird invisible to others comes to you - perhaps a pig, a mouse, or any beast at all. Is there

42 The Crucible

some figure bids you fly? The child remains limp in his hands. In silence he lays her back on the pillow Now, holding out his hands toward her, he intones: In nomine Domini Sabaoth sui filiique ite ad infernos. She does not stir. He turns to Abigail, his eyes narrowing. Abigail, what sort of dancing were you doing with her in the forest?

Abigail: Why - common dancing is all.

Parris: I think I ought to say that I - I saw a kettle in the grass where they were dancing. Abigail: That were only soup.

Hale: What sort of soup were in this kettle, Abigail? Abigail: Why, it were beans - and lentils, I think, and -

Hale: Mr. Parris, you did not notice, did you, any living thing in the kettle? A mouse, perhaps, a spider, a frog - ?

Parris, fearfully: I - do believe there were some movement - in the soup.

Abigail: That jumped in, we never put it in!



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