Giles Corey angers Judge Danforth, who has him arrested for contempt of court. He asks him to take his seat and keep counsel with himself. Giles has to reconsider his actions prior to the judge's finding.
Giles finds himself in this unfortunate situation because he drew up a deposition accusing Thomas Putnam of using his daughter, Ruth, to accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft. Giles claims Putnam used his daughter to accuse Jacobs so he may be arrested and incarcerated. Jacobs's property would then be forfeited to the state and sold at auction. In terms of Giles's accusation, Putnam would be the only one with the means to buy the property. Giles's deposition thus accuses Putnam of illegally abusing the witch trials to profit from the accused's misfortune.
Giles's deposition claims that a friend of his had heard Putnam instruct his daughter to accuse George Jacobs. Both judges Hathorne and Danforth then ask him to name his witness. Giles refuses to do so, saying:
I will not give you no name, I mentioned my wife’s name once and I’ll burn in hell long enough for that. I stand mute.
Giles is afraid his friend will be arrested if he should identify him and, therefore, refuses. He believes having innocently mentioned his wife's name on a previous occasion put her in jail -- an act for which he feels great regret.
As it is, Giles refuses to relent and is later put in jail, where he is incarcerated with other accused people. We learn of his tragic fate in Act Four, when Elizabeth Proctor informs her husband, John, of his death. Giles refused to respond to the charges against him and was pressed to death. His accusers placed huge stones on his chest until he died. His last words supposedly were, "More weight!"