In act 1, scene 3, Giles Corey asks Reverend John Hale, "What signifies the readin' of strange books?" Corey goes on to explain that he often finds his wife, Martha, reading strange books, and while she is reading these books, he is unable to pray. Corey explains,
I tried and tried and could not say my prayers. And then she close her book and walks out of the house, and suddenly—mark this—I could pray again!
Giles Corey tells Hale that he is not trying to suggest that his wife "touched the Devil"; he says he just wants to know what she is reading and why she hides it from him.
Later in the play, Martha Corey is arrested and accused of being a witch. Once Martha is arrested, Giles regrets having talked about her reading habits and gets kicked out of the courtroom while trying to argue for her innocence. Eventually, Giles is also accused of witchcraft, and upon refusing to confess to it, he is pressed to death.