ACT 3 – Scene 2
Mary Warren has signed a Deposition against Abigail and the other girls
saying that they lied about seeing spirits.
Proctor brings her into the Vestry room, but Danforth refuses to accept Mary’s evidence. Danforth suspects that Proctor is trying to undermine the Court’s authority for his own aims. Proctor says that confidence in the Court is waning because people are being accused of witchcraft solely on the basis of children’s accusations.
Danforth advises Proctor that his wife is now claiming to be pregnant and
the Court has allowed her to live another year for the sake of the unborn child.
Proctor has also obtained a petition from 91 people stating that Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey are incapable of witchcraft for they are good Christian women.
Putnam is brought into the Vestry and Giles Corey accuses him of encouraging
his daughter to falsely accuse George Jacobs of witchcraft. Putnam hopes to gain Jacob’s land once he is executed for he is one of the few people in Salem who can afford the purchase price.
Corey’s basis for this accusation is from a witness who overheard Putnam expressing this hope. Corey is arrested for Contempt of Court.
The Reverend Hale tries to bring some logic to the situation by telling
Danforth that it is not possible that everyone who the girls accuse can be guilty. Danforth is persuaded to read Mary Warren’s statement.
Hale suggests that a lawyer should be brought in to present Proctor’s claim regarding the girls, but Danforth rejects this.
Reverend Parris begs permission to question Mary Warren, but Danforth is
losing patience with Parris and angrily refuses the request.
Mary Warren’s statement is an admission that she has committed perjury and
whatever happens now, she will go to jail, so Danforth stresses to her that she must tell the truth.
The Court has now become a symbol of fear in the Salem community, and Deputy
Governor Danforth is losing control of the situation, but he is stubborn and will not alter his direction despite the questions being raised by Reverend Hale and Proctor.
The fact that Mary Warren has made a Deposition denying the existence of the
spirits must put a seed of doubt in his mind. He puts pressure on young Mary telling her that whatever course she takes she will end up in jail, so she will jump away from where the greatest threat is.
Giles Corey accuses Putnam thus, “This man is killing his neighbours for
Prior to this witch-hunt Salem was a close-knit community, although under
the surface there were rivalries and disputes, but the Trials have split the community and relationships will never be the same again in this town.
Reverend Hale recognises that there is a growing fear in the community, and
people are wondering if they will be next to be accused.
Danforth regards any attack on the Court as a personal attack on him and a
comment on his competence.
So far the Court cases have proceeded on the minimum of evidence solely
based on the testimony of the children. Hale’s suggestion that a lawyer be brought in is abhorrent to Danforth because lawyers would call upon witnesses to support the accusations of witchcraft and this would
severely slow down the process of rooting out the evil in the community. Unfortunately, the evil is concentrated in the accusers and it is the good that are suffering at the hands of these evil children.