Chronologically speaking, the play begins after the girls (Betty, Abigail, Mary Warren, and others) have been dancing in the woods at night. Act One opens with Reverend Parris kneeling at the bed while his daughter, Betty, lies on the bed "inert." Parris is a widower. Before any dialogue takes place, Arthur Miller provides a narrative section in which Reverend Parris is introduced and described as a man who "cut a villainous path, and there is very little good to be said for him." When the dialogue beings, Titbua approaches and retreats, asking if Betty is going to be okay. Parris yells at her to leave. There are many references to Betty lying, sick and/or unconscious on the bed after the dialogue begins:
PARRIS . . . Quaking with fear, mumbling to himself through his sobs, he goes to the bed and gently takes Betty's hand. Betty. Child. Dear child. Will you wake, will you open up your eyes!