ACT 2 – Scene 2
Finally, Mary Warren returns from Salem.
Proctor is furious with her, but defiantly she tells them that she is now an
official of the Court and will be required to attend every day. She gives Elizabeth a poppet (doll), which she made while waiting in the Court. There are now thirty-nine people in jail and Goody Osburn
has not confessed to witchcraft and she is to be hanged. Proctor is exasperated by this news for he believes that the Court is condemning people without concrete evidence.
Mary states that it was fortunate that she was at Court for she was able to
defend Elizabeth who was accused of witchcraft. In desperation, Elizabeth pleads with Proctor to do something, as it is clear that Abigail wants to get rid of her. She is certain that Abigail will accuse
her of witchcraft again. She tells her husband that Abigail wants to take her place, and that he must make it clear to her that this will never happen, whatever happens to her.
Although the audience does not view the Court scene, we are aware of the
hysteria that is taking over the town of Salem.
These young girls have now become the instruments of God’s justice and their
past misdemeanours have been forgotten about. Anyone in the community who has crossed the girls is now in fear of being accused of witchcraft.
Abigail is relishing her newfound power and is exercising it to the full so that she can possess Proctor. The other girls also enjoy their status, clearly shown in Mary’s insubordination to her master. Previously, Proctor would have disciplined Mary in the same way as he would discipline a child, but he now has no control over her and this frustrates him.
However, she does have some loyalty still to the Proctors, and she gives
Elizabeth the present of a doll that she has made whilst in Court. This appears on the face of it as an innocent gesture, but it will have serious repercussions later on in this act.
The audience is aware that the net is closing in on Elizabeth and that time
is of the essence.
Will the Proctors merely wait for the inevitable, or will John take some action to avert disaster? There seems to be only two courses of action available to Proctor – either to convince Abigail to stop her plan because he is not interested in her, or go to the Reverend Hale and tell him the whole story.
Reference is made to the lack of evidence regarding those accused of
witchcraft. In Goody Osburn’s case, Mary Warren had met Osburn when she had come begging and took sick immediately afterwards. This is the evidence held against Osburn, and on this she could be hanged.