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Act I, Scene 3 Summary

Reverend John Hale arrives from the town of Beverly, Massachusetts. He is a rather famous scholar of witchcraft, and his name is associated with learning and expertise in this area. He is extremely confident, even a bit arrogant, in his education and knowledge of witches—particularly their signs and how to identify them. He arrives with an armload of heavy books, claiming that they are "weighted with authority."

Hale declares that he will not proceed with his examination of Betty Parris "unless [all present] are prepared to believe [him] if [he] should find no bruise of hell upon her." He will not leap to conclusions, and he warns the townspeople not to do so either. Although he is cautious, Hale remains confident in his ability to defeat the devil: "we shall find [the devil] out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face!" Giles Corey asks Hale about all the reading his wife, Martha Corey, does and mentions that he cannot pray when his wife is in the house but that as soon as she leaves, he can.

Hale interviews Abigail, and Parris tells Hale that he saw a pot with something alive inside when he came upon the girls in the forest. Abigail blames Tituba, Parris's slave, for calling the devil and for a number of other things. Tituba seems blindsided by Hale's kindness toward her (by contrast, her "master" and his friends threaten her with beating and even death), and she confesses to witchcraft, perhaps for this reason. She gives the names of two other women she claims to have seen with the devil: Sarah Good and Goody Osburn. Seeing all the attention being paid to Tituba, Abigail suddenly says that she, too, saw these women with the devil. Then, she and Betty begin to name another nine or ten individuals as witches; Betty's sudden awakening seems proof to those present that she has, in fact, been "witched."