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When the play opens, Betty Parris is in a comatose state, unable to wake. The doctor is unsure about the cause, and advices Parris that there is nothing physically wrong with her, and that he should perhaps look elsewhere for answers. As the act unfolds, we learn that the children were found by Parris dancing in the forest the evening before. According to Abigail Williams, Rev. Parris' niece, Betty is simply scared of the ramifications for dancing. In her fright, she has blacked out. Parris, under the direction of the Putnams, believes that someone may be "witching" his daughter, causing this illness as an attack against him and his family. Based on later events in the Act, such as Betty's outburst for her mother and her accusation to Abigail about conjuring spirits, the audience is left to believe that perhaps nothing is really wrong with Betty, but that out of fear of being beaten for dancing, she is pretending.
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