What do the actions of Tituba, Abigail, and Betty reveal about the conflict in The Crucible?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The actions of Tituba, Abigail, and Betty in the first act reveal that they are largely responsible for the main external conflict of the play. When Reverend Hale begins to question Abigail about their behavior in the woods the night before, she panics and accuses Tituba, knowing her word will be taken over a slave's. Then Hale begins to question Tituba, speaking softly and kindly to her; Reverend Parris threatens to whip her to death, and Mr. Putnam wants to hang her. Immediately, her resolve collapses and she confesses to witchcraft, accusing Goodwives Osburn and Good. As the ecstatic hysteria spreads throughout the room, Betty suddenly sits up and begins making accusations as well. She had "woken up" once before, when only a few of the girls were in the room, to call out Abigail's lie that she'd already told Parris everything and that there was nothing to fear; Betty says that Abigail didn't tell him everything, including the fact that she drank a charm to kill Elizabeth Proctor. It seems incredibly clear to us, at this point, that all three—Abigail, Tituba, and Betty—have made accusations as a way of deflecting blame from themselves. Abigail blames Tituba, Tituba blames the devil and the other white women he has working for him, and Betty and Abigail begin to blame even more women. They know that they would be blamed for the dancing and spell-casting they did in the woods, and so they point a finger at others, others who might already seem peculiar and/or powerless within the community (a slave, a beggar, and so on).