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In The Crucible, what is Mary Warren's motivating factor & how does it...

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mandisah101 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 5, 2010 at 11:47 AM via web

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In The Crucible, what is Mary Warren's motivating factor & how does it positively/negatively affect herself & other characters in the play?

I am having trouble identifying Mary Warren's motivating factor.

I originally thought that Mary was motivated by her desire of power, and that this negatively affects herself by "blackening" her name and ultimately taking away all of her power, and that this negatively affects other characters by destroying their lives and friendships.

However, I do not think that this statement really pinpoints the answer to the question, so I need some help in determining what Mary's motivating factor truly is, and how it positively or negatively affects herself and other characters in Miller's play, "The Crucible."

Any thoughts, suggestions, etc. would really help me to grow less grey hairs from worrying and struggling to properly address/answer this question!

Thank you!

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luannw | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted October 5, 2010 at 8:30 PM (Answer #1)

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Mary Warren is primarily motivated by the same factors that motivated so many of the others at that time in Salem, Massachusetts - fear and ignorance.  Mary was afraid of Abby and of being accused of witchcraft herself.  Like the other girls who pointed fingers of accusation at people, Mary was caught up in the frenzy.  When the girls are caught by Rev. Parris in the woods playing with white magic, they are all afraid of what punishments will come to them.  As soon as they start crying "Witch!" and see that they now become victims instead of perpetrators, they all start using that ploy.  Abby is the ring leader in the play, telling the girls in Act 1 that they need to stick to their story and she threatens violence on any girl that goes against her.  Apparently the girls do not doubt Abby's capacity for violence because they heed what she says even though Mary Warren has suggested that they all just admit to dancing and take their whipping for that misdeed rather than lie about what went on.  Later, when Mary brings the poppet to Elizabeth, it seems that she has simply been keeping her hands busy as she sat in court all day - that she had no ulterior motive in making the little doll.  When Mary goes to court in Act 3 to confess that the girls lied about the allegations of witchcraft, Abby turns against her because Mary's claim makes Abby out a liar.  Abby starts to say that Mary is a witch and out of fear, Mary recants and says that John Proctor made her say she and the other girls lied about being tormented by witches.  Mary is very afraid of Abby and what Abby might do to her.  She knows that if Abby accuses her of witchcraft, and the other girls follow her as they are doing, that she will go to prison and possibly be hanged.  The ignorance comes to play because the people did believe that witches could be among them and that hanging those accused by girls was the right action to take.

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