What Are the Conflicts in Act I of "The Crucible"?

conflicts-act-crucible Credit: Mraz Center for the Performing Arts/CC-BY-2.0

The conflicts in Act I of "The Crucible," the Tony award-winning play by Arthur Miller, center around the lead character of John Proctor and secondarily around the character of Abigail. Proctor, the lead character, finds himself in conflict with the Reverend Parris over his dislike of Parris's sermons and attitude, with the newly-arrived Putnam family over land issues and with Abigail regarding their former affair, which she wants to renew. He also deals with his internal conflict over his guilt about that affair.

The conflicts established in the first act continue to reverberate through the entire play. Not only is Proctor driven by his internal and external conflicts until his ultimate fate, which is both tragic and redemptive, but Abigail's conflicts in Act I also help to set up much of the eventual denouement of the play. Abigail is in conflict first with Betty and the other girls she danced with in the woods over what to say about their actions. She adds to her conflicts when she accuses Tituba of consorting with the devil and compounds them when she starts to accuse women in the town of witchcraft. As the play continues, the direct conflict between Proctor and Abigail fuels much of the story, culminating with Abigail's successful attempts to destroy Proctor after he publicly confesses the truth about their adultery.