In The Crucible what does Mary Warren want?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Mary Warren has to be seen as an interesting and unique character in that her motivations are not exactly clear and purely defined.  On one hand, she is motivated in her sense of belonging to the group of girls.  She went out with them to the woods and is part of the gaggle's conversations in the First Act about what will happen to them and what path they should pursue.  Her desires in this section is to simply take the punishment that is there.  One almost gets the impression that she is not as driven as Mercy and Abigail to get away with it.  Mary Warren's take is that they had a fun time doing something wrong, got caught, and should take the punishment as long as they are still friends.  Of course, she is silenced in all of this and she is forced to go on with the story that is being pushed by the girls.  Her acquiescence and refusal to speak out reflects her desire and want to be a part of the group, showing that she looks at being apart from them a fate worse than anything else.  In Act II, her serving on the jury in the town listening to accusations reflects, on some level, a desire for power.  She enters the Proctor home and defers her responsibilities because she is fatigued and she feels that she has power in what she is doing.  Miller shows quite well how seductive a narcotic power is in that it is appealing to people who have lacked it.  Mary Warren had not experienced a great deal of wielding power, but with her position in the juries in town, she actually has power and this is something that she wants and desires, experiencing it both with the girls and her inclusion in this group and then also in town with her service on the jury.  The trial reflects how Mary might wish to tell the truth and come clean with all that happened, as it has taken a definite toll on her both physically and emotionally.  Yet, I think that the girls' mocking her led by Abigail along with Mary plunging into Abby's arms reflects how Mary's fundamental want is to be accepted.  This helps to bring out how Miller sees that many people simply wish to be a part of what is accepted as the norm, or as part of a group wielding power, placing everything else, including truth and compassion, as a distant second.


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