Identify some of the "not-so-obvious" conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that the Act I probably features the most amount of conflict present.  It is the exposition for what will come later.  However, there are some conflicts that are meaningful, but might be lost in the midst of the more dominating conflicts.

In the extensive stage instructions to Act I, Miller points out an interesting conflict present between the founding of Salem with that of Jamestown.  The latter was founded on economic profit, while the former was founded on spiritual grounds.  This helped to create a distinction between both.  Yet, when the land charter to Salem was revoked, it created a sense of fear in the community that their land could be taken and as others sought to gain more land, it came at the cost of other people.  In this, there is a conflict between spirituality and economics both in the historical condition of Salem and in its present context.

I think that conflict is also evident in the girls, themselves.  Abigail is no doubt the leading figure, the "queen bee."  Yet, I think that there is conflict present in how Mary Warren seems to be less inclined to continue with the plan than the other girls.  This conflict is going to become more pronounced in Act III when the schism between she and the girls helps to drive her insane.

Finally, I think that Tituba, as a character, is wracked with internal conflict.  Naturally, she is accused in a direct manner with Abigail's words.  Yet, I think that she shows herself to be internally conflicted in a couple of ways.  She is broken when she is betrayed by Abigail, and fights the uphill battle to be believed by the others.  She knows that she won't be.  She talks to herself in the third person, reflecting a sense of internal division within herself, and her rocking back and forth, repeating Hale's words represent the level of internal conflict she experiences.  She is fighting within herself for her own safety, and then battling through the fact that these wealthy White people stand over in and stand in harsh judgment of her.  Her own accusations and giving of names is a reflection of the internal and external conflicts she faces.