Discussion Topic

Conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible

Summary:

In Act 1 of The Crucible, several conflicts arise, including the tension between Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor due to Abigail's affair with John Proctor. There is also a conflict between Reverend Parris and the townspeople over his perceived materialism and authority. Additionally, the fear of witchcraft creates a broader social conflict within the community.

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What are some subtle conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible?

I think that the Act I probably features the most amount of conflict present.  It is the exposition for what will come later.  However, there are some conflicts that are meaningful, but might be lost in the midst of the more dominating conflicts.

In the extensive stage instructions to Act I, Miller points out an interesting conflict present between the founding of Salem with that of Jamestown.  The latter was founded on economic profit, while the former was founded on spiritual grounds.  This helped to create a distinction between both.  Yet, when the land charter to Salem was revoked, it created a sense of fear in the community that their land could be taken and as others sought to gain more land, it came at the cost of other people.  In this, there is a conflict between spirituality and economics both in the historical condition of Salem and in its present context.

I think that conflict is also evident in the girls, themselves.  Abigail is no doubt the leading figure, the "queen bee."  Yet, I think that there is conflict present in how Mary Warren seems to be less inclined to continue with the plan than the other girls.  This conflict is going to become more pronounced in Act III when the schism between she and the girls helps to drive her insane.

Finally, I think that Tituba, as a character, is wracked with internal conflict.  Naturally, she is accused in a direct manner with Abigail's words.  Yet, I think that she shows herself to be internally conflicted in a couple of ways.  She is broken when she is betrayed by Abigail, and fights the uphill battle to be believed by the others.  She knows that she won't be.  She talks to herself in the third person, reflecting a sense of internal division within herself, and her rocking back and forth, repeating Hale's words represent the level of internal conflict she experiences.  She is fighting within herself for her own safety, and then battling through the fact that these wealthy White people stand over in and stand in harsh judgment of her.  Her own accusations and giving of names is a reflection of the internal and external conflicts she faces.

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What are three conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible?

Act I of The Crucible establishes a number of conflict-ridden relationships that already existed in Salem before the events in the play, as well as showing how the girls’ dancing in the woods produced further conflicts. The first act presents Reverend Parris as a person given to resentment and sensitive about his reputation. His attitude has already put him at odds with many people in Salem, and these disagreements are exacerbated by his daughter’s involvement in suspicious activities.

Early in the play, a conflict between the minister and Abigail, his niece, is established. Reverend Parris insists that she tell him the whole truth about what she, his daughter Betty, the family’s servant Tituba, and other girls were doing in the woods. Abigail contradicts almost everything he says, insisting that they “never conjured spirits.” When he says he thought he saw someone naked, she says he is mistaken, and he shouts angrily, “I saw it!”

Gossip idea that the girls were caught doing some kind of witchcraft has already begun circulating through the town, which brings Ann and Thomas Putnam to the Parris house. Parris strongly discourages them from assuming that any witchcraft is being practiced, but they are already convinced. When Mrs. Putnam declares that Betty was seen flying through the sky, Parris denies it. The Putnams believe that his sending for Reverend Hale confirms the witchcraft, as he has identified witches before, but Parris urges them not to jump to conclusions: “I pray you, leap not to witchcraft.”

Having established Abigail as a young person who readily debates with adults, Arthur Miller then introduces John Proctor. Although she tries to act as though their relationship is warm and cordial, the conflict between them is quickly evident. Abigail first implies that, when she worked in his home, they had a closer relationship than master to servant. John insists that she is mistaken: “We never touched.” Abigail criticizes his wife, Elizabeth, and claims that John loves her.

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What are three conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible?

There is also some conflict between Reverend Parris and the Putnams. Mrs. Putnam sent her daughter, Ruth, to Tituba to conjure the spirits of Ruth's dead brothers and sisters. She wishes to know why her children "were murdered." Parris reminds them that it is a "formidable sin to conjure up the dead." He is horrified by the danger she may have unleashed in attempting to do so. Mr. Putnam, however, defends his wife, saying, "There is a murdering witch among us, bound to keep herself in the dark. Let your enemies make of it what they will, you cannot blink it more." He wants Parris to publicly admit that there is a witch in their midst, as he and his wife believe it is the only explanation for their children's deaths. Parris, however, is afraid that such a declaration would reflect poorly on him.

There is also conflict between Mary Warren and Abigail and Mercy. Mercy suspects that Mary is going to tattle on them for the things they did in the woods. Mary tries to encourage Abigail and Mercy to confess to dancing, as they'll "only be whipped" for it. Abigail implies that Mary would also be whipped, but Mary swears, "I never done none of it, Abby. I only looked!" And Mercy seems to threaten Mary, "moving menacingly toward [her]." This conflict will continue on into future acts as it grows even more tense between Mary Warren, who wishes to tell the truth, and the other girls, who continue telling lies.

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What are three conflicts in Act 1 of The Crucible?

1.  Parris has numerous conflicts with others and his own sense of ego.  For example, he is upset that he doesn't get more money for a salary, and he fights with Proctor about that one.  Then, he complains that he has to pay for his firewood.  Then, he complains that no one appreciates him or his degree from Harvard.  Then, he is upset when Proctor tells him that his sermons are too intense, and that they frighten small children.  So, he has conflict with his sense of wounded pride in the community, and with the townsfollk over the subject matter of his sermons.

2.  Thomas Putnam gets into arguments with John Proctor and Giles Corey over land boundaries.  John and Giles are leaving to go gather firewood, and Thomas challenges their land boundaries, insinuating that John has unfairly used his land for firewood in the past.  Giles mentions that Thomas has a reputation for taking land that isn't nailed down and confirmed as being owned by someone else, and they argue over that for a few minutes.

3.  There is a lot of conflict revolving around Abigail. First, she fights with her uncle about the dancing in the forest and about why she was fired from her previous job.  Then she fights with John about her being in love with him still and not willing to abandon his wife for her.  Then, she fights with the other girls, who are terrified and want to confess to making spells.  So, she brings a lot of conflict with her.

I hope that those thoughts help to get you started; good luck!

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What are the major conflicts in act 1 of The Crucible?

There is a conflict between Reverend Parris and much of the community, including John Proctor and Giles Corey.  Parris is especially nervous about learning what Abigail, Betty, and the other girls were doing in the forest the night before because he believes his "enemies will [know], and they will ruin [him] with it."  Further, he believes that his "ministry's at stake, [his] ministry and perhaps [Betty's] life." 

There are also hints of a conflict between Abigail Williams and Elizabeth Proctor.  Parris asks Abigail about her reputation in the town, implying that it might not be as spotless as it should be.  Moreover, he says he's heard that Elizabeth has said that "she will not sit so close to something soiled" and this is the reason she doesn't attend church. 

Likewise, we also see the conflict between Mrs. Putnam and Rebecca Nurse (though it is really a one-sided conflict).  Mrs. Putnam is angry with Rebecca because, while Putnam has lost seven of eight babies, Rebecca has never lost either a child or a grandchild.  It seems colossally unfair to Putnam, and she holds a grudge out of bitterness, claiming that there must be some conspiracy working against her, that "There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!"

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What are the major conflicts in act 1 of The Crucible?

- The teenaged girls of the village have been caught dancing in the woods, which is very much against the religious beliefs of the town.
- Two young girls are in trances, seemingly unable to see or hear the outside world.
- Some of the girls want to tell the adults the truth, but Abigail keeps them from doing so.
-Abigail and John Proctor have had an affair. She still wants to be with him, but he tells her that they can never be together again.
-Proctor and Putnam begin to argue over wood being taken off land.
- Many of the villagers become sure of witchcraft.
- Abigail accuses Tituba of witchcraft who in turn accuses other women of the town.

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