The Crucible Summary

The place of action is Salem, Massachusetts, 1692. The play starts in the home of Reverend Parris, the priest of Salem. His young daughter, Betty, lies unconscious, almost in coma, and appears very ill. The night before, around the midnight time, Reverend Parris went searching for Betty and found her, another girl named Abigail who is his niece a well as his black slave Tituba dancing a strange dance in the woods. Immediately after being found, Betty collapsed.
The local doctor is unable to determine what caused the strange illness of the girl. The local family, Mr. and Mrs. Putnam come to Parris and say that their daughter, Ruth, roughly of the same age, also has the same illness. There are rumors in Salem that it was caused by unnatural forces or outright Devil himself.
Abigail, who is perfectly fine, warns her friend Mercy Lewis and Mary Warren (Proctor’s servant) to be silent about the fact they all were casting spells in the wood in order to kill Goody Proctor. Betty briefly wakes up and Abigail again tries to frighten with violence everyone who participated in the ritual and make them keep silent. She says they will be punished if they tell that Betty was involved in the ritual and drank blood.
John Proctor and Abigail have a private conversation about their former relationship. Before the events of the play Abigail was a maid in Proctor’s home while his wife, Elizabeth Proctor, was ill. Due to the mistress’ illness Abigail took more and more responsibility in Proctor’s household and soon became close and intimate with her master. When Elizabeth knew about the affair she dismissed Abigail immediately. In the conversation Abigail is angry with Proctor for not acknowledging any feelings towards her neither that time nor now.
Betty wakes up again. She is in fear and hysterical. The respected woman Rebecca Nurse, who is a devoutly religious pillar of the society in her early seventies, comes to calm her and successes. She has a talk with Parris warning him that accusations of witchcraft may have dangerous consequences and lead to further troubles for all the Salem. Mr. Putnam, seeing how well it goes with Betty, asks Rebecca to visit his daughter also and attempt to wake Ruth. Mrs. Putnam is torn apart by controversial  feelings: from the one hand she definitely wants Ruth to wake up, but from the other hand she is jealous of Rebecca. All Rebecca’s children are alive and healthy, whereas Ruth is the only child of Mrs. Putnam’s seven children to survive until adolescence.
Putnam, Proctor and Giles Corey come to Parris to argue about his salary and what they actually expect of him. Parris claims that they just want to get him out of the town and disputes the amount of salary. The quarrel gets louder, the men now argue about property and land ownership. Putnam accuses Proctor of stealing wood from the land belonging to Putnam’s property, but Proctor responds that the land is actually his, bought from Francis Nurse five months ago. Putnam isn’t satisfied with this explanation, saying that Francis also didn’t own the land, so he could not sell it to anyone. The argument continues.
Reverend Hale, the priest from another town, arrives to help with investigation of the strange events and illness of Salem. The people of Salem asked him to come because he is a well-known expert in witchcraft and they believe Reverend Hale can determine whether the illness was caused by Devil or it has natural origins.
Hale starts his investigation. He learns that the girls were dancing in the wood with Tituba and that Tituba is able to cast spells and talk to spirits. Abigail blames Tituba for involving her into sinful actions. Reverend Hale questions Tituba in quite a harsh manner and she calmly admits that she saw the Devil as clear as Goody Good and Goody Osburn near. It seems that she doesn’t understand what is wrong with the Devil because she came from Barbados where speaking to the spirits was an essential part of their culture.
Abigail also confesses to be involved in witchcraft, but she claims that she now understands that it was a terrible mistake and she repents now. Betty wakes up again and she and Abigail name the persons they saw around the Devil.
A week later Elizabeth discovers that Abigail met Proctor in private again and spoke to him. She is rightfully angry and they argue about that meeting. Then Mary Warren returns home from Salem where she was serving as official of the court. She tells Proctor that some of the girls said that his wife was also a witch, but the court didn’t believe them because Mary defended her so eagerly. She also gives Elizabeth a small gift, a doll, she made for her while she was in the court.
Reverend Hale comes to the Proctor’s house and questions him about the fact he almost not attends the church. He demands that Proctor recite the Ten Commandments. Proctor names nine successfully but forgets (or deliberately omits) the one forbidding adultery. Then Hale questions Elizabeth also and isn’t satisfied with her answers. Proctor reveals that Abigail told her that her confession was false.
Marshal Herrick arrives and arrests Elizabeth as a potential witch, because earlier in the morning Abigail felt an acute pain like a needle in her stomach and accused Elizabeth of casting a spell to kill her. Marshal with other authorities search the Proctor’s house and find a doll. The doll is looking suspiciously alike to Abigail and there was a needle inside it. Reverend Hale interrogates the maid also and she, frightened of what happened, tells that it was she who made a doll and sew the needle inside. Nevertheless, Elizabeth is the only woman who is arrested. 
The court convicts Martha Corey and Rebecca Nurse - the most unlikely women to be witches - of witchcraft. But Giles Corey remembers the argue with Putnam and objects that Putnam accuses his neighbours in order to get their land. Judge Danforth asks about the name of the person who gave Corey that information but Corey refuses to tell the name. The court arrests him too. After the observation Judge Danforth tells Proctor that his wife is pregnant.
Mary Warren changes her mind again and tells the court that she only pretended to be a witch and see spirits and demons and her accusations of witchcraft are false. She also reveals that Abigail is lying and threatened the other girls into submission and supporting her lies. Abigail angrily denies this, telling that she and others saw that Mary Warren sent a spirit against her in the court. Other girls agree with Abigail.
Proctor breaks down and shouts at Abigail saying she is a lying whore. Proctor tells the court everything about his affair with Abigail. He says she is lying to have Elizabeth executed and Proctor himself a widower, who he will have a chance to marry later. Proctor says that his wife will never lie and asks the Judge to take her to the court and interrogate. The court agrees and asks Elizabeth in front of the court about everything she knows of husband’s affair with Abigail. But not knowing that Proctor has already confessed, Elizabeth lies trying to protect their family’s honor and modesty. So Proctor’s plan fails and Elizabeth is returned to jail.
Abigail, feeling victorious, resumes her claim that Mary Warren is a witch who attacked her with evil spell but Mary repeats her confession once more telling she lied about her witch abilities and accuses John Proctor of being a witcher.
After several months we see Proctor in prison awaiting for his trial and execution along with Rebecca Nurse. Elizabeth is also in prison, but she will be executed later after giving birth and her child will be an orphan. Reverend Hale tries to convince all the condemned to confess and avoid hanging but they are adamant and all refuse their connection to the witchcraft. Finally, Proctor writes and signs his confession, but, instead of posting it on the church door, he destroys it, gathering all his will. The play finishes with Proctor taken to the gallows.