Describe 3 conflicts in act 1 of The Crucible.

In act 1 of The Crucible, Reverend Parris and Abigail have conflicting views of what happened in the woods. He also has conflicts with the Putnams about what constitutes witchcraft. John Proctor has a disagreement with Abigail about their relationship.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Act I of The Crucible establishes a number of conflict-ridden relationships that already existed in Salem before the events in the play, as well as showing how the girls’ dancing in the woods produced further conflicts. The first act presents Reverend Parris as a person given to resentment and sensitive...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Act I of The Crucible establishes a number of conflict-ridden relationships that already existed in Salem before the events in the play, as well as showing how the girls’ dancing in the woods produced further conflicts. The first act presents Reverend Parris as a person given to resentment and sensitive about his reputation. His attitude has already put him at odds with many people in Salem, and these disagreements are exacerbated by his daughter’s involvement in suspicious activities.

Early in the play, a conflict between the minister and Abigail, his niece, is established. Reverend Parris insists that she tell him the whole truth about what she, his daughter Betty, the family’s servant Tituba, and other girls were doing in the woods. Abigail contradicts almost everything he says, insisting that they “never conjured spirits.” When he says he thought he saw someone naked, she says he is mistaken, and he shouts angrily, “I saw it!”

Gossip idea that the girls were caught doing some kind of witchcraft has already begun circulating through the town, which brings Ann and Thomas Putnam to the Parris house. Parris strongly discourages them from assuming that any witchcraft is being practiced, but they are already convinced. When Mrs. Putnam declares that Betty was seen flying through the sky, Parris denies it. The Putnams believe that his sending for Reverend Hale confirms the witchcraft, as he has identified witches before, but Parris urges them not to jump to conclusions: “I pray you, leap not to witchcraft.”

Having established Abigail as a young person who readily debates with adults, Arthur Miller then introduces John Proctor. Although she tries to act as though their relationship is warm and cordial, the conflict between them is quickly evident. Abigail first implies that, when she worked in his home, they had a closer relationship than master to servant. John insists that she is mistaken: “We never touched.” Abigail criticizes his wife, Elizabeth, and claims that John loves her.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There is also some conflict between Reverend Parris and the Putnams. Mrs. Putnam sent her daughter, Ruth, to Tituba to conjure the spirits of Ruth's dead brothers and sisters. She wishes to know why her children "were murdered." Parris reminds them that it is a "formidable sin to conjure up the dead." He is horrified by the danger she may have unleashed in attempting to do so. Mr. Putnam, however, defends his wife, saying, "There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark. Let your enemies make of it what they will, you cannot blink it more." He wants Parris to publicly admit that there is a witch in their midst, as he and his wife believe it is the only explanation for their children's deaths. Parris, however, is afraid that such a declaration would reflect poorly on him.

There is also conflict between Mary Warren and Abigail and Mercy. Mercy suspects that Mary is going to tattle on them for the things they did in the woods. Mary tries to encourage Abigail and Mercy to confess to dancing, as they'll "only be whipped" for it. Abigail implies that Mary would also be whipped, but Mary swears, "I never done none of it, Abby. I only looked!" And Mercy seems to threaten Mary, "moving menacingly toward [her]." This conflict will continue on into future acts as it grows even more tense between Mary Warren, who wishes to tell the truth, and the other girls, who continue telling lies.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

1.  Parris has numerous conflicts with others and his own sense of ego.  For example, he is upset that he doesn't get more money for a salary, and he fights with Proctor about that one.  Then, he complains that he has to pay for his firewood.  Then, he complains that no one appreciates him or his degree from Harvard.  Then, he is upset when Proctor tells him that his sermons are too intense, and that they frighten small children.  So, he has conflict with his sense of wounded pride in the community, and with the townsfollk over the subject matter of his sermons.

2.  Thomas Putnam gets into arguments with John Proctor and Giles Corey over land boundaries.  John and Giles are leaving to go gather firewood, and Thomas challenges their land boundaries, insinuating that John has unfairly used his land for firewood in the past.  Giles mentions that Thomas has a reputation for taking land that isn't nailed down and confirmed as being owned by someone else, and they argue over that for a few minutes.

3.  There is a lot of conflict revolving around Abigail. First, she fights with her uncle about the dancing in the forest and about why she was fired from her previous job.  Then she fights with John about her being in love with him still and not willing to abandon his wife for her.  Then, she fights with the other girls, who are terrified and want to confess to making spells.  So, she brings a lot of conflict with her.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team