As the facts emerge, Abigail claims Tituba forced her to drink blood.
Tituba counters that Abigail begged her to conjure a deadly curse.
As they argue, psalm is sung in the room downstairs, Betty bolts upright and begins screaming. Parris runs back into the bedroom and various villagers arrive: the wealthy and influential Thomas and his wife, Ann Putnam, respected local woman Rebecca Nurse, and the Putnam's neighbor, farmer Giles Corey. Putnam is a bereaved parent seven times over; she blames witchcraft for her losses and Betty's ailment.
The villagers, who had not heard the argument, assume that the singing of a psalm by the villagers in a room below had caused Betty's screaming. Rebecca is rational and suggests a doctor be called instead. Putnam and Corey have been feuding over land ownership.
The village is rife with rumors of witchcraft and a crowd gathers outside Rev. Parris becomes concerned that the event will cause him to be removed from his position as the town's preacher.
He questions the girls' apparent ringleader, his niece Abigail Williams, whom Parris has been forced to adopt after her parents were brutally killed in King Philip's War.Miller wrote the play as an allegory for Mc Carthyism, when the United States government persecuted people accused of being communists.Miller was questioned by the House of Representatives' Committee on Un-American Activities in 1956 and convicted of contempt of Congress for refusing to identify others present at meetings he had attended.Parris threatens to whip Tituba to death if she does not confess to witchcraft.Tituba breaks down and falsely claims that the Devil is bewitching her and others in town.The narrator speculates that the lack of civil liberties, isolation from civilization, and lack of stability in the colony caused latent internal tensions which would contribute to the events depicted in the play.The remainder of Act One is set in the attic of local preacher Reverend Samuel Parris.Abigail still harbors feelings for John and believes they are reciprocated, but John denies this.Abigail angrily mocks John for denying his true feelings for her.The play was first performed at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953, starring E. Marshall, Beatrice Straight and Madeleine Sherwood. Miller felt that this production was too stylized and cold and the reviews for it were largely hostile (although The New York Times noted "a powerful play [in a] driving performance").The opening narration explains the context of Salem and the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts, which the narrator depicts as an isolated theocratic society in constant conflict with Native Americans.