There is an overall tone of oppressive conformity and unease in the play, which pervades all the acts. However, each act also has its own distinctive atmosphere.
Act I—Rising Panic
The act begins with Betty lying insensible on the bed with Parris, Tituba and Abigail all worrying about what may happen to her. The hysteria rises, particularly with the entrance of Mrs. Putnam, who is triumphantly certain that satanic forces are a work. The advent of Reverend Hale is supposed to calm things down but instead stirs up Tituba and Abigail so that the scene ends with a torrent of terrifying accusations, creating a superstitious panic.
Act II—Suspicion and Doubt
The scene begins with John and Elizabeth tiptoeing around each other, trying not to mention Abigail. It is obvious that Elizabeth no longer trusts her husband and doubts his motives for staying away from Salem. Reverend Hale tries and fails to allay his own doubts about both the Proctors and the trial. The arrests and the discovery of...
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