The Crucible Summary Notes. Federick/ Wysocki. TERMS TO KNOW: Communism- a theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property. The Crucible young adults, and until this strange crisis he, like the rest of Salem, never conceived that the children were anything but thankful for being permitted. The daifiteresua.ga Under threat of punishment if she refuses to confess, Tituba breaks down and admits she communed with the devil. She begins to.
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Complete summary of Arthur Miller's The Crucible. eNotes plot summaries cover all the significant action of The Crucible. Summary. print Print; document PDF. Crucible most resembles Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet. Letter. Both works show Brief Life Story: Arthur Miller was born to middle-class parents in in . A Teacher's Guide to The Crucible by Arthur Miller. 2 . jotting summary notes of what they learned from the resources at the particular daifiteresua.ga (p.
The end of Scene 4 reveals other animosities when Proctor and Putnam begin arguing over land rights. Proctor goes to leave and states that he must haul lumber back to his home. Putnam accuses Proctor of stealing wood from his land, even though Proctor states that he had downloadd the land from Francis Nurse five months prior.
Just as Scene 3 results in a new reason for Abigail to accuse others of witchcraft, so Scene 4 provides the Putnams with a lucrative motivation to accuse their neighbors of witchcraft. Glossary prodigious notable; here, meaning ominous.
Hale tells Rebecca Nurse that people in his town know her good deeds well. Putnam states that Tituba can conjure spirits. Goody Nurse leaves when Hale prepares to examine Betty for signs of the Devil because Hale says the process may cause the child pain. Giles Corey tells Hale that his wife Martha has been secretly reading books and that these books prevent him from praying. Parris tells Hale about Abigail, Betty, and the others dancing in the woods.
Hale questions Abigail, and she blames Tituba for everything. Abigail says that Tituba makes her drink blood, plagues her dreams, and tempts her to sin. Hale questions Tituba and tells her that she can redeem herself by admitting that she has been working with the Devil and by telling him the names of anyone else involved.
Abigail admits that she has given herself to the Devil by writing her name in his book. Act I ends with Abigail and Betty naming individuals that they have seen with the Devil. First, this scene establishes the expectation of witchcraft in Salem. Hale warns everyone in the room that he will not examine Betty unless they acknowledge the fact that witchcraft may not be involved.
Although everyone agrees, they overwhelmingly expect and hope that he will discover witchcraft. For example, Mrs. Even though Hale states a disclaimer at the beginning of Scene 5, nearly everyone expects him to find evidence of witchcraft; they will not be satisfied unless he does.
He might explain any one of these events in isolation, but together, they serve as overwhelming evidence of witchcraft in Salem. Under normal circumstances, the Puritans would severely punish Mrs. However, Mrs. The second reason that Scene 5 is pivotal is because Abigail exerts her power and begins her quest to obtain Proctor. Unsurprisingly, Tituba confesses to witchcraft when the townspeople threaten her with physical violence. She is a black female slave, an individual without any power.
In order to preserve her own life, Tituba takes cues from her interrogators and tells them what they want to hear. Declaring witchcraft becomes the popular thing to do.
It grants an individual instant status and recognition within Salem, which translates into power. Abigail realizes that she can achieve immediate respect and authority by declaring that she has consorted with the Devil but now seeks redemption. Abigail knows that the townspeople will view her as an expert witness.
The fact that Hale believes her sets her far apart from the other people in Salem. This calculated move finally puts her in a position to get rid of Elizabeth Proctor. Glossary diabolism dealings with the Devil or devils, as by sorcery or witchcraft. Here, also a verb, meaning to be in league with someone.
For example Tituba denies trucking, or being in league with, the Devil.
Proctor returns late after working in the fields and eats dinner with his wife Elizabeth. Proctor tells Elizabeth that he is striving to make her happy. Elizabeth questions Proctor to find out if he was late for dinner because he had gone to Salem.
She tells Proctor that their servant, Mary Warren, has been in Salem all day. Proctor becomes angry because he told Mary Warren not to go to Salem. Elizabeth tells Proctor that Mary Warren has been named an official of the court. Proctor learns that four magistrates have been named to the General Court and the Deputy Governor of the Province is serving as the judge.
The court has jailed fourteen people for witchcraft. Elizabeth tells Proctor that he must go to Salem and reveal that Abigail is a fake. Proctor hesitates and then reveals that he cannot prove what Abigail said because they were alone when they talked.
Elizabeth becomes upset with Proctor because he did not tell her he spent time alone with Abigail. Proctor and Elizabeth argue.
Proctor is angry because he believes Elizabeth is accusing him of dishonesty and is suspicious that he has resumed his affair with Abigail. Elizabeth is angry because she does not believe Proctor is completely honest with her. Up until this point, the audience has only heard about Elizabeth through Abigail and Proctor. Proctor has vehemently defended Elizabeth. From outward appearances, the Proctor household seems to be the typical Puritan home. She tells Proctor that she forgives him, but a lingering distrust plagues her.
Even though Proctor has remained faithful for the past seven months and is truly sorry for his affair, Elizabeth faces difficulty moving beyond the past. As a result, Proctor feels that Elizabeth continually scrutinizes his actions, which frustrates and angers him. Tension and mutual frustration define their relationship.
Elizabeth is frustrated with Proctor because of his initial infidelity and because she believes he still has feelings for Abigail. She is also frustrated with herself. She wants to forgive Proctor and begin reestablishing their relationship, but she cannot forget what he has done.
Elizabeth tries to demonstrate her faith in Proctor when she asks him to go to Salem even though she does not want him anywhere near Abigail. Elizabeth automatically suspects Proctor of wrongdoing. Proctor, however, regrets his affair with Abigail. During the past seven months, Proctor has tried to please Elizabeth to gain her forgiveness and affection, but nothing seems to work. The current argument over Abigail is yet another example of their strained relationship.
He is irritated with himself because he did not tell Elizabeth he was alone with Abigail in the first place.
Now, Elizabeth is angry, not just because he was alone with Abigail, but because he did not tell her from the beginning. Glossary clapped put, moved, set swiftly clapped into jail. Proctor is furious that she has been in Salem all day, but Mary Warren tells him she will be gone every day because she is an official of the court. Mary Warren gives Elizabeth a poppet that she made while in court. Mary Warren tells Elizabeth and Proctor that thirty-nine people are in jail, and Goody Osburn will hang because she did not confess to witchcraft.
Proctor becomes angry because he believes the court is condemning people without solid evidence. Mary Warren states that Elizabeth was accused, but she defended Elizabeth and the court dismissed the accusation. Elizabeth tells Proctor that Abigail wants to get rid of her. Elizabeth believes that Abigail will accuse her of witchcraft and then have her executed. Elizabeth asks Proctor to speak to Abigail and tell her that no chance exists of Proctor marrying her if something happened to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth and Proctor argue again. Commentary Scene 2 reveals the impact of the witch trials and the frenzy they have created in Salem, reinforcing the theme of how easily a mob can be influenced. Suddenly the townspeople revere the youth of the town, namely Abigail and the other girls, as instruments of God.
Anyone who has crossed the girls lives in fear of being accused of witchcraft. As the leader of the group, Abigail has finally achieved the power she desires, and now she can use it to obtain Proctor. The other girls have achieved new status as well. Prior to the witch trials, Mary Warren lived as a servant in the Proctor home. She was paid for her services, but she was also under the authority of Proctor and was required to follow the rules of the house.
If Mary Warren did not fulfill her work obligations, Proctor could discipline her just like one of the Proctor children. This type of arrangement was acceptable and normal within Puritan society. Individuals who previously did not have power obtain it and refuse to submit to others who traditionally have authority over them.
Mary Warren provides a clear demonstration of this when she refuses to take orders from Elizabeth and stands up to Proctor when he threatens to whip her for insubordination. In Scene 2 Mary Warren begins to cry. Serving on the court all day has exhausted and upset her. At this point, Mary Warren attempts to convince herself and the Proctors that solid evidence exists against all of the accused. She secretly questions this, but feels she can only go along with Abigail and the others. She now belongs to a group, and does not want to be an outcast.
This is central to the play because, up until this point, only the audience knows what is really happening. Before Scene 2, Proctor and Elizabeth knew that Abigail had lied about the witchcraft incident, and both suspected that Abigail wanted to get rid of Elizabeth. Scene 2 confirms their fears. Time is now the most important element in the play. With each arrest for witchcraft, Abigail gains credibility.
She is quickly becoming irrefutable in the eyes of the court. Proctor only has two chances to save Elizabeth. Either he must speak to Abigail and convince her that her plan will not work, or he must speak to Hale before Abigail accuses Elizabeth.
Proctor must act as quickly as possible because both Proctor and Elizabeth know that Abigail will continue to accuse Elizabeth until the court arrests her.
Glossary poppet [Obsolete] a doll. Hale tells Elizabeth and Proctor that Elizabeth was named in court. Hale questions Proctor about his poor attendance in church. Hale asks Proctor to recite the Ten Commandments. Proctor can only recall nine and Elizabeth reminds him of the one he forgot—the commandment forbidding adultery.
The fact that Proctor forgets this particular commandment is not unintentional. Proctor has not incorporated this commandment into his life, so it fails to remain in his memory. Hale asks Proctor to testify in court that Abigail is a fraud.
Hale then questions Elizabeth to find out if she believes in witches. Commentary Hale is a fair individual who honestly attempts to administer justice. He remains uninvolved in the petty rivalries and power plays of the inhabitants of Salem. Several issues disturb Hale and make him suspicious of the Proctors.
In Act I, Scene 5, the inhabitants of Salem provide a list of evidence that Hale takes at face value and fails to analyze individually. As a result, Hale declares witchcraft without attempting to examine any of the evidence. Tension also arises in Scene 3 between the Proctors and Hale over issues of faith. Both Elizabeth and Proctor refuse to believe that Rebecca could be involved with witchcraft, and the accusation horrifies them both.
Although Hale is hesitant to believe that Rebecca could be guilty, he will not dismiss the possibility. The Puritans looked to the Scriptures as a guide for daily life. They did not believe that faith was a sufficient indication of religious dedication, unless a person demonstrated that faith through good deeds.
Not surprisingly, the Proctors argue with Hale over Rebecca, considering her history of good works. Hale extends this argument when he questions Elizabeth regarding whether or not she believes in witches.
Elizabeth does not believe that Rebecca can possibly be a witch because the idea contradicts the morality of the Scriptures.
Elizabeth knows that suspicion hangs over her also. Elizabeth has devoted her life to moral goodness and charity; therefore, she refuses to acknowledge the existence of witches when the court could label her as one. Hale realizes that good intentions and a firm commitment to God governed his own actions.
However, he also realizes that he may have imprisoned innocent people and condemned to death those individuals who refused to confess to something they did not do. Glossary trafficked had traffic, trade, or dealings with.
Cheever discovers the poppet that Mary Warren made for Elizabeth, and he finds a needle inside the doll. Cheever tells Proctor and Hale that Abigail has charged Elizabeth with attempted murder. Mary Warren tells Hale that she made the doll in court that day and stored the needle inside the doll. Mary Warren also states that Abigail saw her sewing because she sat next to Mary Warren.
The men still take Elizabeth into custody, and Hale, Corey, and Nurse leave. Proctor tells Mary Warren that she must testify in court against Abigail. Mary Warren tells Proctor that she fears testifying against Abigail because Abigail and the others will turn against her. Proctor discovers that Mary Warren knows about his affair. Abigail goes over to her and asks her to wake up. But Betty jumps up and runs toward the window, saying she will fly to her dead mother.
Abigail prevents Betty from jumping and again says that she has told Parris everything. Abigail repeats to the girls what they are allowed to reveal—only that they danced and it was Tituba who did the conjuring. She warns the girls that she can seriously harm them, having seen Indians smash the heads of her own parents. Mary Warren becomes hysterically frightened.
He is a farmer who has little patience for hypocrites, is rather independent, and is in his prime, confident, and strong. He yells for Mary to go home, and Mercy, too, is intimidated by him and leaves. As she continues pushing him, he does admit that he has looked up at her bedroom window.
With this, Abigail softens and starts to cry, then grabs him desperately again.
John is pushed to anger, too, when Abigail starts to remark on the cruel coldness of his wife. Finally, he shakes her, and they hear the singing of a psalm from below, while Abigail, in tears, explains how she watches for the return of John Proctor, who enlightened her about the hypocrisy of the townspeople and their religion. So, theirs was not just a lustful relationship; Abigail believes he showed her the truth. But as Proctor abruptly starts to leave, Betty suddenly covers her ears and moans loudly, causing her father to rush in, along with Mrs.
Putnam, her husband, and Mercy. Rebecca Nurse enters, a woman of seventy-two who is highly respected in the community yet also has enemies because her husband had earned a great amount of land, which provoked great fights with neighbors, one of whom was a Putnam. By this time, another older person has entered as well—Giles Corey, a strong eighty-three-year-old.
The girl calms down and is quiet as others in the room are astonished. Rebecca explains that she has numerous children and grandchildren of her own. As the scene unfolds, Proctor questions why Parris made the decision to send for Reverend Hale without consulting the villagers, to which Parris replies that he is sick of meetings.
The comparisons and accusations grow here, with Mr. Putnam standing up for Parris. Putnam accuses Proctor of not being a good Christian, since he has not seen him at their Sabbath meetings for months, but Proctor explains that this is because Parris speaks only of damnation in his preachings and hardly ever of God.
Those in the room persist in arguing, with Proctor, Rebecca, and Corey usually voicing agreement against the others. Parris complains that he has not gotten the wood to keep himself warm, but the others explain that his salary includes extra money so he can download wood. Proctor admonishes him for being the first minister ever to ask them for the deed to the meeting house, and finally, Parris, fed up, furiously tells him they are not Quakers and he should tell his followers so.
Corey, who has just commented that there are too many fights and suings among the townspeople, says he too must go to work and tells Putnam they will win if Putnam dare fight them over the wood. The bickering and reproach seem impossible to stop, and the Reverend Hale—the topic of the initial argument—enters 24 the room.
For the Puritans, these beliefs also became entangled with politics, Miller explains. He also scoffs at the idea, which numerous critics have complained about, that the analogy between the fear of witches and fear of communists is not valid, since witches could not exist but communists do. Hale enters, then, reinforcing the belief that authority has weight and therefore validity; he does not question what these books contain. The first person Hale recognizes is Rebecca Nurse, whom he says he recognizes because of her reputation for goodness— she indeed looks like a good soul.
This, of course, reinforces our view of her but does not say much for the other women in the room. John Proctor is cordial to Hale but slights the villagers and embarrasses Hale in the process, when he says that, since Hale is known to be a sensible man, it would be beneficial to the town if he would leave some of that sensibility in Salem.
The others left in the room immediately start to tell Hale of the unusual things they have seen, seemingly indicating witchcraft, but Hale quickly warns them that he is here to make such judgments and will not proceed unless they promise to believe his findings once he has garnered all the facts. While 25 Hale, so far, has been described as wanting to do what is good and right, we see that he also fits into another category where Parris, too, resides, which is the category of authority that can never be questioned.
This immediately serves as a warning to the audience that we are again in dangerous territory, since Hale is not necessarily the purely sensible man of reputation. In the course of enumerating for Hale the various unusual events that the townspeople have no explanations for, Mrs.
Putnam adds that she ordered her daughter to go to Tituba to conjure up the dead in an attempt to get some answers, which shocks Rebecca Nurse. Again we see dissension among the townspeople as Mrs. Rebecca is the only one to ask if the child might be hurt in the process. When Hale tells her it might be a brutal procedure, she says she must go and that she will go to God for Parris.
At this point, Miller interrupts the action in the written play to insert a description of Corey—a nuisance who is blamed for nearly every problem in the town yet who is innocent, independent, and very brave. Hale turns to Betty, asking who has afflicted her, but when the girl remains limp, he turns, with narrowing eyes, to Abigail. As in the opening of the play, when Parris questioned Abigail alone, here again, new tidbits of information emerge.
We learn that in the woods the girls danced around a kettle that a frog supposedly jumped into. Putnam leaves to get Tituba, while Hale continues to 26 pressure Abigail, to the point that when Tituba enters Abigail immediately proclaims that Tituba makes her drink blood.
When Tituba admits she has given Abigail chicken blood, Hale pounces on her with questions. Abigail interjects with more accusations against Tituba, saying the slave has made her laugh at prayers, corrupted her dreams, and tempted her. All in the room are against Tituba now, and when Tituba explains that Abigail asks her to conjure spirits and make charms, we realize that Tituba is telling the truth, since we know, although the others on stage do not, that earlier Betty revealed this as well.
The intensity rises as Parris says Tituba must confess or he will whip her to death. While we assume this is a metaphor rather than a literal promise, the punishment immediately intensifies, as Putnam cries that she must be hanged.
Tituba is now terrified and weeping and suggests that someone else may be bewitching the children. With this new comment to latch on to, Hale and Parris squeeze Tituba for names of these others who are cavorting with the devil.
The evil Putnam suggests the names of two women from the village. It seems that if she provides this information she may be safe. She says Sarah Good and Goody Osburn—the very two people Putnam had suggested before—belong to the devil. Putnam reveals that Goody Osburn had delivered three of her children who died; now we understand why Putnam had chosen her name earlier.
Parris and Hale are thrilled that Betty is back, but Betty still calls out another name, and so does Abigail, back and forth until a total of eleven people are accused. It should be noted that many have postulated that in the nonfictional Salem of the repressive society drove the girls to dance in the woods, that personal vendettas caused some of the accusations, as did the realization that once someone was jailed and condemned his property would be made available for sale to the other villagers.
Act 2 opens eight days later in the empty living room at the Proctor home, a sharply different setting than the previous crowded and chaotic Parris bedroom. Elizabeth is heard singing softly to her children upstairs, and Proctor enters from outside carrying a gun.
The contrast between them is immediately set. Elizabeth suspiciously asks him why he is so late coming home and fears he has been in Salem visiting Abigail.
Proctor tells Elizabeth he wants to please her, rises and kisses her, but receives a lukewarm response and is disappointed. More of his sensitive side is displayed as he says they need flowers in the house, and when he looks out the door and poetically comments on the beauty of the lilacs.
Details of events outside the home begin to surface. But Elizabeth explains that Mary proudly announced that she must go, since she is now an official of the court. Fourteen people are already in jail and could be hanged.
She told it to me in a room alone—I have no proof for it. He is angry about her suspicions and warns her not to judge him, saying he has been so careful to please his wife ever since Abigail left seven months ago.
When he enters his house, he says, it is like entering a court a formidable comparison, since we know the newly set up court in Salem is out of control. Yet even though he is angry, Elizabeth, whom he had earlier accused of being too weak in dealing with Mary Warren, will not relent when she realizes he has not been honest with her. This stressful atmosphere is interrupted by Mary Warren, who serves only to heighten the negativity and tension.
Immediately upon her entrance, Proctor confronts her for going to Salem, which he has expressly forbidden. He rebukes her for not getting her work done, especially since his wife has not been completely well. She starts sobbing and tells them that Goody Osburn is to be hanged but that Sarah Good will get off easier since she confessed to making a deal with the devil.
Mary says that in court Sarah Good tried to choke all the girls to death with her spirit and that, in fact, the woman 29 tried to kill her many times before this. The Proctors keep questioning her, and Mary explains that she felt sorry for the old woman who is so poor that she sleeps in ditches.
But then Mary provides a flimsy explanation of why she turned against the woman and why the judges condemned her as well. We find out also that Sarah Good smokes a pipe and that even though she is almost sixty, she is pregnant and husbandless, additional reasons for the upright Puritans to be against her. Mary repeats that she is an official in court and will have to be gone daily, at which Proctor takes down his whip and Elizabeth tries to talk sense into the girl.
This girl, who had earlier been described as quite mousy, now realizes she has power and turns to Proctor to make it clear to him, telling him that he now must treat her better and letting him know that she and the other girls just had dinner with the judges and deputy governor. Once Mary goes to bed, Proctor and Elizabeth are left staring.
She is trembling as they try to decide what to do, both believing she is only temporarily safe. Elizabeth asks her husband to go to Abigail and break her illusion, since it is clear that the girl believes that Proctor would marry her if Elizabeth were gone.
There is great tension, and Proctor is angry and again disturbed that his wife sees him as deceitful, as if he promised Abigail something when they were together. Were I stone I would have cracked for shame this seven month! As Proctor prepares to leave, Reverend Hale appears in the doorway, now more deferential, drawn, and perhaps feeling slightly guilty. The couple is shocked and frightened to see him as he is there out of his own concern and not on official business.
This disturbs the couple further, since they know Rebecca is one of the most devout people in the village. Hale asks why Proctor has been so infrequently at church and why his third child has not been baptized; Proctor explains that his poor opinion of Parris has dictated these actions, and this seems reasonable in light of what we saw of Parris in act 1. Hale still feels uncertain about these explanations, however, and asks if the couple know their commandments.
It is clear that Hale has misgivings about the Proctors, and Elizabeth, wanting to change his impression, asks her husband to tell Hale his information. Proctor, with trouble, tells Hale that Abigail said the excursion in the woods had nothing to do with witchcraft.
Hale is shocked, and Proctor reminds him that many may confess to avoid hanging, not because it is the truth. Proctor explains as well his concern about going to court with this information, since the court has been so willing to convict good, upright people.
Hale finally is impressed with Proctor, yet he brings up one more point, which is whether Proctor believes in witches at all. Hale prepares to leave, but now Giles Corey is in the doorway and tells them his wife has been taken to jail. Directly behind him is Francis Nurse, whose wife has also been arrested.
Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her home, I know it. Cheever says that he has been given warrants only just that night for sixteen more people, that Abigail has charged Elizabeth, and that he is to search their home for any poppets rag dolls. Cheever says he does not want to search, and the Proctors say they have no such things, but he spies one on their mantel, the one that Mary had brought home that evening.
Proctor says his wife will not go, and he sends her off to get Mary. Cheever examines the doll and is distressed when he finds a needle in it, explaining that at dinner that evening Abigail had screamed in pain and Parris had found a needle stuck two inches inside her belly.
When Mary appears, Proctor and Hale question her, and she admits she brought the poppet home and had put the needle in herself. Elizabeth is shocked to hear the story about Abigail, speaks out in horror against her, and Cheever takes note. After this outburst, Elizabeth says she will go, and Proctor is warned that there are nine men outside to help with the arrests.
God will not let you wash your hands of this! When he hears clanking chains, he chases after the men, cursing them and yelling that they cannot chain her. It is fraud, you know it is fraud! Hale advises the husbands that they must think of evidence that can be brought to court to counter the charges against their wives. Corey and Nurse depart, and Proctor tells Mary they must go to court together, so she can explain what happened with the doll and needle.
Mary is more frightened and says she cannot do it. Now, in addition to being angry he is confronted with his own hatred of himself. Arthur Miller added act 2, scene 2 to the play near the end of its run on Broadway. Many have said it is unnecessary both dramatically and thematically, and the play has been performed with and without it and sometimes as act 3, scene 1. Proctor and Abigail meet in the woods, and Proctor is surprised that she is dismayed to be receiving so much negative attention.
Proctor sees her now as mad. She tells him that the town is full of evil hypocrites and that she will speak out against many more villagers.
When Proctor asks her if there is anyone good, she says he is—that he taught her goodness and removed her ignorance. God has given her the strength to get rid of them, she tells him, and she promises to make him a good wife when the world is clean.
He says he has come to tell Abigail what he plans to do in court at the trial, so that she might think of some way to save herself. But Proctor appears to have made a serious mistake. He tells Abigail he is giving her the opportunity to remove the charges against his wife, and to therefore prevent him from having to bring forth the damning evidence against Abigail and himself.
Abigail acts shocked. She cannot believe that to explain her vendetta against Elizabeth he will admit in court he had a sexual relationship with Abigail. Abigail laughs madly, trembling and looking at him as if he is mad. She says that he is hopeful his wife will die and that she will save him from himself in court the next day. Depending upon the production, this is either the start of act 3 or act 3, scene 2.
The stage setting indicates that she, like the others accused, are convicted based on unseen evidence. They are interrupted when Giles Corey yells out that he has evidence, and we also hear the excited voices of the gathered townspeople.
Danforth calls for order, and when Corey will not be quiet, he is ordered removed by Herrick and appears in the anteroom before us. Hale leaves the court to come to Corey, and Corey tells him he must make the judge listen to him.
Yet before any dismissal, Francis Nurse speaks up, and when Danforth tells him as well to write his plea, Nurse proclaims that the girls the judges have been relying on are frauds. This disturbs Danforth, who asks if the man realizes that he has sent four hundred people to jail so far and that seventy-two are to be hanged.
Danforth is very interested and hears that Mary Warren is there to say that she never saw any spirits. Concerned, Danforth asks Proctor if he has revealed this information to anyone in the town and if he realizes that in these trials the court has contended that God is speaking through the children. He questions Mary, and she says that the other girls are pretending too, that none of the townspeople have set evil spirits against them.
Ezekiel Cheever and Parris attempt to discredit Proctor. Then Danforth offers him a deal. He tells Proctor that Elizabeth claims to be pregnant, and if she is he will spare her life for at least a year. Proctor will be heard in the court, and, surprisingly, even though Parris and Hathorne have been railing against Corey, Nurse, and Proctor, now Marshal Herrick unexpectedly stands up for Proctor.
Ninety-one people have signed, and Parris, now sweating, says they should be called 35 to court for questioning and declares that these people are intent on attacking the court.
Hathorne also pushes for the people to be brought in, while Nurse and Hale are against it. Danforth orders Cheever to bring the people in, making Nurse horrified and guilt-stricken, since he says he promised all of these people that they would not get into any trouble.
Mary Warren suddenly starts to sob. Hathorne asks who gave Corey this information and the old man is shocked and says he cannot tell him, since this person will be thrown in jail as well. Hathorne declares that this is contempt of court. Proctor stands up for Corey, while Hathorne and Parris keep pushing for punishment. Finally Hale speaks up, reminding Danforth that the villagers now have an awful fear of the court. Danforth says Corey is under arrest for contempt of court. Corey lunges at Putnam, but Proctor holds him back, assuring him that their additional proof will sway the court.
He means to hang us all! Mary Warren bursts into sobs again, adding to the tension. Hale relents, and the proceedings that have seemed inevitable since early in act 2 begin. Danforth questions Mary as to whether she is lying or Proctor pressured her to do so, but Mary denies both points.
The other girls are brought into court, and Danforth tells them Mary claims that she never saw spirits or any sign of the devil and that neither did the other girls. Abigail says that Elizabeth always had poppets, which Proctor denies, and both Hathorne and Parris chime in against him, finally pushing a furious Proctor to take another approach. He questions what Mary has to gain by making these statements.
Proctor then reveals other points that he knows the judges will find disturbing—that Abigail was removed from their religious services twice because she was laughing and that she and the other girls danced in the woods naked. Hathorne states that if this were indeed pretense then Mary should show them now how she did it.
Parris chimes in as well, calling for a demonstration, but Mary looks at Proctor and says she cannot, and he becomes quietly alarmed yet still encourages her to try. Part of the feeling that Salem has gone mad is even supported by the way the court is run; seemingly it is a free-for-all, with Danforth setting rules nearly at whim.
Similarly, Danforth is not the only one doing the questioning; he has turned this over to Hathorne at this point, and even Parris is allowed to ask the girl questions. Additionally, the idea that those who confess to being witches will be let out of jail makes no sense, since these people who were believed to cause great harm will now be free to do so. After being pressured, Mary explains that in court she got wrapped up in the commotion when the other girls started screaming and when she saw how Danforth himself believed the girls.
Danforth now seems to understand Mary and, worried, he looks to Abigail and asks her if this is what motivated her, too, rather than the presence of actual spirits. She says that she cannot believe that she is mistrusted, and Danforth weakens. Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits?
Beware of it! Mary emits a hysterical cry and starts to run but is caught by Proctor, who then leaps to Abigail, grabs her hair, and pulls her up to stand. Trembling, Proctor confesses in two short sentences that he committed adultery with Abigail, and Danforth is now dumbfounded. Greatly ashamed and with a breaking voice, Proctor explains that it happened about eight months ago, when Abigail worked at the Proctor home.
Miller describes Proctor as clamping his jaw to keep from weeping as he continues. His wife dismissed Abigail, Proctor says, nearly overcome and trying to gain control.
And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. I know you must see it now. He uses nearly the same language his wife used with him earlier in act 2. She had advised him to understand that a woman might see the act as meaning something more than a man might, that the woman might believe the man will change his life for her, even if this is not directly stated.
Danforth is horrified, and when he turns to Abigail to ask if she denies all that has just been told, she remains contemptuous, saying she must not answer, and threatens to leave.
Following another tactic, Danforth asks that Elizabeth Proctor be brought into the court. He has both Abigail and Proctor turn their backs, so they will not face Elizabeth when she is in the room. Following this preparation, Elizabeth is brought in and looks around the room for her husband.
Danforth warns her to look only at him and asks why she dismissed Abigail from working in the Proctor home. Elizabeth is hesitant, not knowing how to answer the question, since she wants to tell the truth but does not want to cause her husband trouble. She is in agony, since Danforth will not drop the questioning and finally holds her face so she must look only at him.
He asks directly if her husband is a lecher, to which she finally, quietly responds that he is not. Her husband calls out to her to tell the truth, telling her that he has already admitted it to the court. Now Elizabeth knows she has unwittingly caused problems, but she is escorted out before she can explain. Danforth accuses Proctor of lying and Hale once more tries to speak on his behalf, pleading for him to bring Elizabeth back into the court.
The chances of Danforth changing his mind diminish, however, when Abigail screams that she sees a yellow bird in the rafters—allegedly the spirit of Mary Warren trying to attack her. Mary protests this accusation, but the girls in the courtroom begin to mimic her, as if under her spell.
The atmosphere in the courtroom intensifies as mass hysteria takes control. Danforth turns against Proctor, who is dumbstruck with anger. Hale again attempts to implore Danforth, who 40 immediately silences him.
Danforth asks Proctor if he will confess. Proctor, wild and in disbelief over what has happened, says that God is dead. I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!
First, even though Proctor realizes he and others are doomed, he speaks not of this but of his own guilt, showing how it has nearly destroyed him. He speaks of this even before he lashes out at Danforth, even though Danforth is grossly more guilty. Unusual as well is the fact that Proctor does not just condemn himself and then Danforth but that he puts them both in the same category. The hero has high standards for himself, and when he does not meet them he feels as low as the lowest.
While some have criticized that Proctor is too good of a man, it seems we could also view his response here as a weakness, in that he sees his mistake as comparable to that of a man who is responsible for numerous condemnations and deaths.
Danforth calls for Proctor and Corey to be taken to jail. Danforth, who has hardly been open-minded with Hale, is now furious at losing him. Act 4 opens that fall in a Salem jail cell. Herrick enters the cell shared by Tituba and Sarah Good.
All around, the actions of the three show the strain and change that has taken place, even on these lesser characters. Tituba and Sarah Good speak in a mocking, almost delusional manner, as if they are indeed witches, and Herrick drinks liquor from a flask, giving Sarah some when she requests it. Herrick explains that Hale has been speaking with those who are next to be hanged.
It is curious that Danforth himself makes the comment that can be read as a charge against his own self, although, of course, this is not his intention.
Before Herrick brings in Parris, there are hints of even further disarray as well as some revelations that are clear indications of additional problems. Something is going on in another town, Andover, but Danforth tells Hathorne not to speak of it. Also, Hathorne tells Danforth that Parris has had a mad look lately and that he has seen him weeping. Cheever explains that Parris is disturbed because of all the trouble in the village.
He and other villagers are arguing now that many cows are wandering freely, since their masters are jailed and it is unclear who they will now belong to. Danforth immediately berates Parris for allowing Hale into the jail, and Parris explains that it is actually a very beneficial occurrence, since Hale is trying to convince Rebecca Nurse and others to confess. Parris hesitates to tell Danforth something more that apparently is on his mind, but Danforth says he must.
Parris says that Abigail has taken off, he is pretty sure, to board a ship with Mercy Lewis, and has robbed him of all his money. He explains that he believes they were motivated to protect themselves, having heard of what happened in Andover. Yet Danforth still wants to hear nothing of Andover, even though Parris explains that rumors are circulating in Salem that there has been a revolt in that town. Danforth is angry, and denies this, yet Parris still tells him what the people in Salem have heard—that people in Andover overthrew the court and ended all talk of witchcraft.
Parris warns that the same might happen in Salem. Hathorne is greatly concerned and asks Parris if he has advice, to which Parris replies that they should postpone the hangings. Danforth immediately says this is not possible, but Parris explains further that now that Hale is speaking to the prisoners there may be a chance that at least one will confess, which should thereby force the villagers to accept that the court is right in its judgment of all imprisoned.
But Danforth will not give in and tells Parris that he himself will go and try to persuade one of the prisoners to confess. Parris warns that he will not have enough time, since the group is scheduled to be executed at dawn.