A NOTE ON THE HISTORICAL ACCURACY OF THIS PLAY
This play is not history in the sense in which the word is used by the academic
historian. Dramatic purposes have sometimes required many characters to be fused into
one; the number of girls involved in the “crying-out” has been reduced; Abigail’s age
has been raised; while there were several judges of almost equal authority, I have
symbolized them all in Hathorne and Danforth. However, I believe that the reader will
discover here the essential nature of one of the strangest and most awful chapters in
human history. The fate of each character is exactly that of his historical model, and
there is no one in the drama who did not play a similar - and in some cases exactly the
same - role in history.
As for the characters of the persons, little is known about most of them excepting
what may be surmised from a few letters, the trial record, certain broadsides written at
the time, and references to their conduct in sources of varying reliability. They may
therefore be taken as creations of my own, drawn to the best of my ability in conformity
with their known behavior, except as indicated in the commentary I have written for this
A small upper bedroom in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, Salem,
Massachusetts, in the spring of the year 1692.
There is a narrow window at the left. Through its leaded panes the morning
sunlight streams. A candle still burns near the bed, which is at the right. A
chest, a chair, and a small table are the other furnishings. At the back a door
opens on the landing of the stairway to the ground floor. The room gives op an
air of clean spareness. The roof rafters are exposed, and the wood colors are
raw and unmellowed.
As the curtain rises, Reverend Parris is discovered kneeling be-side the bed,
evidently in prayer. His daughter, Betty Parris, aged ten, is lying on the bed,
At the time of these...