Who is Betty and what is wrong with her in The Crucible?

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Ten year old Betty Parris is the daughter of Reverend Parris.  She has some kind of vague undiagnosed illness that is either made up or psychosomatic (in her head). 

The girls, Abigail and Betty, and their friends were dancing in the woods and their father jumped out, scaring Betty so badly that she fainted.  Reverend Parris thinks that they “trafficked with spirits in the forest” (Act 1, scene 1).  He says that there is a “faction” that is trying to drive him from the pulpit and their actions will make things worse.

Apparently, Betty’s illness is either feigned or in her head because when Abigail confronts her she talks about Abigail “drinking blood” she “suddenly springs off bed, rushes across room to window where Abigail catches her” (1.1).  Betty claims that Abigail drank a charm to kill Goody Proctor.

Now look you. All of you. We danced. And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. (Act 1, Scene 1).

She threatens them if they tell.  At this point, Betty faints again.  She is either easily frightened or being conveniently ill.

Betty is a perfect example of how the witch-hunting hysteria affected even the youngest citizens.  Whether Betty’s illness is real or not, she has gotten herself in the middle of it.  Abigail’s threats and strange behavior are also examples.

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