What are the themes in Act 1 of the Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the most intense themes to emerge out of Act I is the idea of how there is a clear demonstration of power.  Power and its relation to political control is a large theme in the drama and it seems to be clearly evident in Act I.  So much of the act is devoted to who has power and who needs to consolidate it.  Parris is dismayed at the eventual loss of power he will face.  In this, he is able to "spin" what happened to Betty and the girls as an example of witchcraft.  Putnam is able to manipulate and parlay what is happening in Salem as an example of his own need to consolidate power.  Abigail demonstrates her own power over the girls in her chance to control "the story" that emerges and crush any form of dissent.  Even Hale, albeit arriving to Salem with the best of intentions, recognizes that power becomes almost like an aphrodisiac in his desire to being able to remove the presence of "the devil" in Salem.  Power, and the ability to possess it, becomes a dominant theme in the first act, something that will end up becoming extremely important in the trajectory of the drama.