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In Salem, Massachusetts, 1692, accusations of witchcraft are rife. John Proctor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and his wife Elizabeth (Joan Allen) are innocent of any such charges, although John has committed adultery with their former serving girl, Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder). When witch expert John Hale is called in to investigate the reports of witchcraft, Abigail attempts to implicate Elizabeth, thinking that she will then be able to resume her affair with John. Arthur Miller's play was originally written as an allegory for the Joseph McCarthy American 'witch-hunt' trials of the 1950s.