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Literature: Arthur Miller

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Of the characters in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Mary Warren, a
minor character, is actually one of the most important, dynamic characters. She
goes from being a lonely, shy, frightened teenager to being a brave witness with
a backbone, in court. But her change is short-lived, however, and she retreats
to being a scared, wimpy girl. Mary Warren, the scared, wimpy girl that she is,
is lonely at the beginning of the play and has been spending time with Abigail
Williams. When there is talk in the town about witchcraft after the girls are
found dancing in the forest, she starts worrying about what will happen to them
if they are called witches. Mary says, "Abby, we've got to tell. Witchery's
a hangin' error, a hangin' like they done in Boston two year ago! We must tell
the truth, Abby! You'll only be whipped for dancin', and the other things!"
(Act I, p.18) She is showing her worrisome self and doesn't want to get herself
and the other girls into trouble. Mary gets Elizabeth Proctor into trouble when
she becomes an official of the court. She makes Elizabeth a poppet and this gets
her into trouble when Cheever comes to arrest her for witchcraft; there is a
needle found in the poppet and is supposed to be the cause of Abigail's pain.
When Mary is questioned about it, she replies, frightened and unsure how to act,
"Why, I--I think it is mine. It--is, sir." (Act II, p.71) She tries to
be cool about it but sounds like she is trying to hide something. John Proctor
tells Mary she is going to go to court with him and tell them the truth so that
his wife and the other innocent people will be freed. Mary resists and tries to
avoid it by telling Proctor that, "She'll kill me for sayin' that! Abby'll
charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor!" (Act II, p.76) But John doesn't care
and finally persuades her to go. Mary is her strongest when she is at the court.
She tells Deputy Danforth that "it were pretense" and she "never
saw no spirits." (Act III, p.98,99) She is strong and answers all the
questions she is asked, and does not falter until Abigail and the other girls
make her crazy by mimicking her and claim that she is sending out evil spirits
on them. Mary can't handle it and yells at Proctor, "You're the Devil's
man! I'll not hang with you! I love God, I love God." (Act III, p.110)
Proctor is taken aback and is condemned and arrested. Mary returns to where she
started. Mary Warren is a dynamic character for only a few pages, never- theless
she is still important to the purpose of the play. She shows that even a weak,
insecure person can have their moment of honor and importance. It is the
persistence of others that bring them down and cause them to fall.
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