The play opens in the home of Reverend Parris where the night candle still burns in the breaking morning light and is symbolic of the new beginnings for the town and its people. Yet, these beginnings are filled with tension and mistrust. People are gathering and something is amiss. Act I opens at the preachers home and the characters introduced are a cross section of Salem. The characters are infused with the fear and paranoia that runs through the room. John Proctor still has feelings for his mistress, Abigail, while the towns girls are flirting with the sin of dancing. John Proctor is in the room and we learn he is married when he scolds his housekeeper to return home where "my wife is waitin with your work" (22). Proctor also reports that people are streaming into town and comments that "The towns mumbling witchcraft" (22). Another sign of new beginnings is Proctors past affair and attraction for the young girl Abigail, and his newfound commitment to his wife. When Abigail assumes that Proctor has come to see her, she is in disbelief when he replies, "Abby, youll put it out of mind. Ill not be coming for you more" (23). The use of the nickname Abby instead of the more formal Abigail indicates a familiarity that Proctor still carries with him in his heart. The language is stark and utilitarian reflecting an almost biblical tone that signifies the religious roots of the problem. The town of Salem is undergoing a significant change, while Proctors marriage is also evolving.
In respect to the action in the town, and the accusations of witchcraft, Proctor wishes to remain uninvolved in the same way he wishes to remain uninvolved with the young Abigail. Just as witchcraft is perceived as a deep-rooted evil for the town, so is Proctors past affair an issue of trouble for his marriage. Yet, he cannot hope to remain aloof from the