Abigail coerces and threatens the others to "stick to their story" of merely dancing in the woods.The other girls are frightened of the truth being revealed (in actuality, they tried to conjure a curse against Elizabeth Proctor) and being labelled witches, so they go along with Abigail. John Proctor, a local farmer and husband of Elizabeth, enters.The village is rife with rumors of witchcraft and a crowd gathers outside Rev. Parris becomes concerned that the event will cause him to be removed from his position as the town's preacher.
He sends the other girls out (including Mary Warren, his family's maid) and confronts Abigail, who tells him that she and the girls were not performing witchcraft.
It is revealed that Abigail once worked as a servant for the Proctors, and that she and John had an affair, for which she was fired.
Parris threatens to whip Tituba to death if she does not confess to witchcraft.
Tituba breaks down and falsely claims that the Devil is bewitching her and others in town.
At the Putnams' urging, Parris reluctantly reveals that he has invited Reverend John Hale, an expert in witchcraft and demonology, to investigate and leaves to address the crowd.
The other girls involved in the incident join Abigail and a briefly roused Betty, who attempts to jump out of the window.Reverend Hale arrives and begins his investigation.Before leaving, Giles fatefully remarks that he has noticed his wife reading unknown books and asks Hale to look into it. Parris, Abigail and Tituba closely over the girls' activities in the woods.The play was first performed at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953, starring E. Marshall, Beatrice Straight and Madeleine Sherwood. Miller felt that this production was too stylized and cold and the reviews for it were largely hostile (although The New York Times noted "a powerful play [in a] driving performance").The opening narration explains the context of Salem and the Puritan colonists of Massachusetts, which the narrator depicts as an isolated theocratic society in constant conflict with Native Americans.She leaps up, begins contorting wildly, and names Osborne and Good, as well as Bridget Bishop as having been "dancing with the devil".Betty suddenly rises and begins mimicking Abigail's movements and words, and accuses George Jacobs.The narrator speculates that the lack of civil liberties, isolation from civilization, and lack of stability in the colony caused latent internal tensions which would contribute to the events depicted in the play.The remainder of Act One is set in the attic of local preacher Reverend Samuel Parris.Parris is unhappy with his salary and living conditions as minister, and accuses Proctor of heading a conspiracy to oust him from the church.Abigail, standing quietly in a corner, witnesses all of this.