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Act I opens at Reverend Parris's house, with his daughter Betty sick in her bed. She will not wake. The night before, he discovered the girls, Betty and his niece Abigail, dancing in the woods. Such an activity was a major moral sin in Puritan New England. Since the doctor is baffled by her ailment, Parris begins to think that something supernatural may be the cause. Throughout the Act, he recalls seeing other items at the scene of their dancing -- specifically a pot with something moving in it. He fears that they have conjured the Devil. The audience also learns early on in the Act that Reverend Parris is not highly favored by all the citizens of Salem. The biggest motive for Parris is to cover himself from the potential of a witch in his house. Adding to his pressure is the influence of Putnam, a prominent member of the town who also has an afflicted daughter. Parris claims that he is just trying to rule out witchcraft, but we see that his motives are much more selfish. The reason that Hale is Parris's choice to bring to Salem is simple -- he is the expert on the topic and he as actually found a "witch" in other towns.
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