Discussion Topic

Rumors and Revelations Surrounding Betty Parris in The Crucible

Summary:

In The Crucible, rumors and revelations about Betty Parris include accusations of witchcraft after she falls into a mysterious, unresponsive state. Her condition sparks fear and hysteria in Salem, leading to widespread panic and the eventual witch trials. Betty's behavior and the subsequent rumors play a crucial role in the unfolding drama and the community's descent into chaos.

Expert Answers

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What does Betty Parris reveal about the events in the woods in The Crucible?

In answering your question, I think you are talking about the first Act when Betty first speaks among the girls. Betty accuses Abigail of drinking blood. Furthermore, she note that Abigail drank a charm to kill John Proctor and Goody Proctor. The word 'reveal' in your question makes me wonder to whom you are referring. If you mean, us the readers, then the above answer works because it is indeed what occured in the woods that Betty spoke of. This happened in the beginning of the Act when the girls were alone in the room.

Then by the end of the Act when other adults are in the room, she reveals to them that she saw Jacobs and Howe with the Devil. This we can assume is a lie or accusation.

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What rumors are circulating in the town about Betty Parris in The Crucible?

In the opening scene of the play, Reverend Parris's daughter, Betty, is incapacitated in her bed after being caught alongside the other girls dancing in the forest the previous night. Ruth Putnam also suffers a similar mysterious ailment and is confined to her bed. The local doctor is confounded by Betty and Ruth's ailments, and rumors of witchcraft quickly begin to circulate throughout the community. The majority of citizens believe that Betty Parris has been bewitched and is under a malevolent spell.

When Mr. and Mrs. Putnam arrive at Reverend Parris's home to visit Betty, she asks Reverend Parris how high his daughter flew in the air. When Reverend Parris responds that Betty did not fly at all, Mrs. Putnam says that Mr. Collins saw her fly over Ingersoll’s barn and land light as a feather. In response to his daughter's enigmatic illness and rapidly spreading rumors, Reverend Parris summons Reverend Hale from Beverly to search for signs of witchcraft.

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What rumors about Betty have spread in "The Crucible" and who started them?

My apologies!  There is a rumor about Betty early on, in the beginning of Act One.  When the Putnams arrive, Mrs. Putnam asks how high Betty flew, and the Reverend Parris denies that Betty ever did fly.  However, Mrs. Putnam says, "Why, it's sure she did; Mister Collins saw her goin' over Ingersoll's barn, and come down light as bird, he says!"  So the rumor going around is that Betty's been witched and that she has actually flown as a result of it.  It is unclear exactly who is responsible for this rumor, as we learn from Abigail that the whole town is talking about witchcraft.  Presumably, Mr. Collins started the rumor since he's the one who described the location of Betty's flight and her landing, but we never meet Mr. Collins or hear anyone verify that the story began with him.

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What rumors about Betty have spread in "The Crucible" and who started them?

It actually isn't Betty, Reverend Parris's young daughter, about whom rumors are spread; it is Abigail, his seventeen year-old "strikingly beautiful niece."  Parris asks her, in Act One, if her name "is entirely white [in the town]."  What he means by this is that he's heard that she is not known to be entirely innocent and pure, as an unmarried Puritan woman ought to be.  Further, he says,

Abigail, is there any other cause than you have told me, for your being discharged from Goody Proctor's service?  I have heard it said, and I tell you as I heard it, that she comes so rarely to the church this year for she will not sit so close to something soiled.

In other words, it sounds as though Elizabeth Proctor, the wife of Abigail's former lover, John Proctor, or someone who suspects what occurred between Abigail and John is talking.  It seems unlikely to me that it is Elizabeth spreading rumors about Abigail based on what we learn of her character later.  She wouldn't wish to soil or tarnish her own husband's name by speaking of his infidelity.  However, someone must have some suspicion about Abigail and John's affair because, as Parris says, it's been seven months since Elizabeth Proctor fired Abigail and no other family has inquired about hiring her.  This person assumes that Elizabeth comes rarely to church because she wouldn't want to be near someone as morally corrupt as Abigail.  However, we learn, in Act Two, that Elizabeth has rarely been to church this year because she's been ill.  Later, in Act Three, we learn that Elizabeth Proctor never lies; her husband testifies that she cannot lie when he is in the courtroom speaking to Danforth.  Therefore, it seems most likely that it is someone else -- not Elizabeth -- who spreads the rumors about Abigail.

But, of course, Abigail blames Elizabeth for the rumors.  She says, "My name is good in the village!  I will not have it said my name is soiled!  Goody Proctor is a gossiping liar!"  She has strong incentive to hate Elizabeth, the woman who is married to the man she loves, and the woman who dismissed her from their service, thereby separating her from him.  Further, Abigail is so vitriolic and the evidence is stacked against her, so we can discern, even at this early stage, that she is lying about her name (and also, likely, who is doing the rumor-spreading).

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