Discussion Topic

The actions and accusations of the girls in the woods in The Crucible

Summary:

In The Crucible, the actions and accusations of the girls in the woods serve as the catalyst for the Salem witch trials. Their initial engagement in forbidden activities leads them to make false accusations of witchcraft to avoid punishment, which spirals into a widespread hysteria and the eventual persecution of many innocent townspeople.

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What were the girls in The Crucible accused of and actually doing in the woods?

Abigail insistently tells her uncle, the Reverend Parris, that all she and the other girls did in the forest was dance. She says, "Uncle, we did dance, let you tell [the town] I confessed it—and I'll be whipped if I must be. But they're speakin' of witchcraft. Betty's not witched." Abigail knows what horrible trouble she and the other girls will be in if anyone finds out what they were really doing. This is why she threatens the others with a "pointy reckoning" in the middle of the night if they say a word. When Betty wakes up, she reveals that Abigail actually "drank a charm to kill John Proctor's wife." Further, Mrs. Putnam reveals to Reverend Parris that she sent her daughter, Ruth, to Parris's Barbadian slave, Tituba, to conjure the spirits of Mrs. Putnam's other dead children in order to find out who is responsible for their deaths. Despite the fact that "it is a formidable sin to conjure up the dead," as Parris says, Mrs. Putnam feels it is the only way she can find out who "murdered [her] babies." In addition, rumors are running rampant through the town regarding what the girls were doing, and people now assume that Parris's daughter, Betty, has been bewitched. Mrs. Putnam has heard Betty can fly, and she wants to know how high. She says that "Mr. Collins saw her goin' over Ingersoll's barn, and come down light as a bird [...]." Ultimately, there are quite a few different stories going around about what the girls were doing, and none of them seems to contain the full and total truth.

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What happens to the girls in the woods in The Crucible?

It is true that we don't know exactly what the girls were doing in the woods, but we do know that they were surprised by Rev. Parris, and it is this event that triggers the strange "disease" that Parris's daughter Betty will suffer from.

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What happens to the girls in the woods in The Crucible?

This is a great question. It is also an impossible question, because nobody knows. We don't get to see the girls in the forest. We only get to see and hear what they say happened, and what the others conclude.
We know Parris says he saw a kettle. We know that the girls (in Act I) first say they just did "common dancing," and then change stories to say that Tituba called the devil. Tituba denies that she called the devil, but then changes stories to say that there were witches there. The girls then change their stories to say they saw women from the town with the devil.
What happened? Do you believe them under pressure? Were they playing around? Running a scam? Possessed? We have only their testimony to go on, and so we can't be sure.
Greg

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