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In Arthur Miller's drama The Crucible, Betty has been in her bed since the girls were caught dancing in the woods.
In this Puritan society, revering God in the strictest and most extreme fashion, celebrations are forbidden, as is open laughter, dancing, etc. Going into the woods, which is believed to be the domain of the devil, is to be avoided at all times.
As several people stand vigil around the bedside of Betty (Rev. Parris' daughter, who lies unresponsive), the Putnams introduce whispers of witchcraft. Mrs. Putnam has taken her daughter Ruth to Tituba to speak to the spirits of her seven dead babies, and Ruth is now behaving strangely. Parris refuses to address the idea of witchcraft in Salem, especially starting with his own household.
PARRIS to Abigail:
Then you were conjuring spirits last night.
Not I, sir—Tituba and Ruth.
Parris is full of fear now. He is not well-liked in Salem and worries that his opponents will use this information to destroy him. Though Mr. Putnam strongly encourages Parris to cry out against discovery of witchcraft in their town, Parris still refuses, claiming that they cannot be certain what is happening with Betty.
Everyone leaves the room but Mercy (the Putnams' servant) and Abigail. With obvious fear, Abigail starts to shake Betty, demanding that she cease in her strange behavior and get up. Mercy suggests beating Betty, saying she hit Ruth and she roused briefly. Abigail stops Mercy, worried that Parris will hear them. They begin to speak of the things they have done, and Mary Warren (the Proctors' servant) arrives with news that "the whole country's talkin' witchcraft!"
As the girls discuss what will happen to them—the kind of punishment they will receive—Betty whimpers on the bed. Abigail talks to Betty, sits her up and shakes her hard. She tells Betty that Parris knows everything, and minister's daughter reacts immediately.
BETTY, darts off the bed, frightened of Abigail, and flattens herself against the wall:
I want my mama!
Abigail reminds Betty that her mother is dead and buried, and Betty cries out that she will fly to her mother, making her way to the window and putting one leg over the sill.
Abigail draws her back inside, while Betty—in a state of hysteria—reveals the much more serious things that were done in the woods.
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