Reverend Parris sits by his daughter Betty’s bedside, wondering what is wrong with her. When Susanna Walcott says the doctor thinks there’s an “unnatural” cause, he tells her it can’t be, and suggests she go home and be quiet about the rumors.
Parris questions his niece, Abigail, about what was going on in the forest when he caught them dancing. He wants to know specifically if she “trafficked” with spirits and whether they were dancing naked, because he thought he saw a dress on the grass.
He questions Abigail about her reputation in town. He says they need to be careful about what they say because there are factions that want to get rid of him.
Parris cautions the Putnams not to be so eager to declare anything as witchcraft, but then they let him know that his slave Tituba is indeed practicing witchcraft.
So he calls Abigail and gets her to confess that Tituba and Ruth were conjuring spirits.
Parris believes this is the end of his ministry in Salem, but Putnam suggests that he just needs to confront the matter head-on and he will be fine.
Parris goes downstairs to lead the people who are gathering for a psalm. He says he won’t declare witchcraft so soon.
When Giles Corey, Francis Nurse, and John Proctor attempt to present evidence in support of their wives, Parris accuses them of trying to destroy the court. He is busy protecting his own self-interests, one of which is to preserve the court and its integrity so he doesn’t get condemned himself.
Parris commands Herrick to let Reverend Hale work to get confessions out of the remaining prisoners who are left. He claims it’s because they’re doing God’s work, but later he lets it slip that his motivation is self-preservation, as he has received threats on his life from angry townspeople.
Parris also confesses to Danforth that Abigail has robbed him and run away from town.
Parris encourages Danforth to let Elizabeth speak to Proctor, to convince him to confess.
When John Proctor decides to rip up the confession, Parris urges Elizabeth to go talk to him before it’s too late and Proctor is hanged.
When Elizabeth fails to go, Parris rushes out the door, calling after Proctor.