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Please help me the following questions regarding the plot of The Crucible in Act III. ...

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tine | Student | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 18, 2007 at 8:11 PM via web

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Please help me the following questions regarding the plot of The Crucible in Act III.  I don't understand.

Danforth gives the premise for judging a witch.  Please summarize his guidelines. 

Mary Warren's testimony is destroyed in the end because she cannot do something.  What is it?  How does she explain the problem?

Finally, Proctor admits that he and Abigail have been lovers.  This truth could be the end of Abigail's control.  Why isn't it?

What is the importance of John Proctor's last speech?  (Are we talking about  'God is dead' or total honesty & integrity?  I'm confused.)

Thank you.

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted December 18, 2007 at 10:16 PM (Answer #1)

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Because we are limited to space, I will attempt to answer some of your questions.

Mary Warren has attempted to rectify the situation (at John Proctor's forceful urging) by telling the truth about the girls behavior in court, as well as their claims. She tells the court that she and the girls were making up the accusations and the symptoms of being bewitched. The judge is skeptical of her testimony because he claims that their physical symptoms were so obvious. He then tells her that if she is telling the truth, she has to prove it by "fainting". Mary Warren is unable to do it, and therefore the judge is skeptical of her claims. He states that if she could have faked it before, there should be no reason she could not do it again.

John Proctor tells the truth about his affair with Abigail. Unfortunately, he has already told the court that his wife, Elizabeth, never lies. When Elizabeth is called in to corroborate his claim, she lies for him, and says he is not guilty of lechery. They were not allowed to communicate before she was questioned, so she had no way of knowing that he had confessed it himself. They were both trying to protect each other.

Proctor's last words are about getting his integrity back. He lost his way, and his good name and integrity, when he had an affair with Abby. By finally refusing to confess to being a witch, or to accuse others in an attempt to save his life, he regains his good name and integrity.

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teacherscribe | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

Posted December 18, 2007 at 11:22 PM (Answer #2)

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Danforth states that in a normal case when a person stands accused, they can call witnesses to prove their innocence.  However, witch craft is "an invisible crime."  There will be no witnesses to the crime, except the afflicted.  A witch would not accuse herself, so the court must rely on testimony of those afflicted by the witches.  It is easy to see how foolish this is, for who is to say that the afflicted are telling the truth?  That is a major blunder the court makes over and over again.

Mary's testimony is destroyed when Danforth calls for her to fake a fainting spell.  Remember, she accuses the girls of faking their fits in court.  However, when the time comes, for whatever reason, Mary is unable to fake fainting.  This proves to Danforth and the court that she is unreliable.

Proctor's admission of the affair doesn't end Abigail's control because Elizabeth lies to the judge about the affair.  Had his wife said she fired Abigail because she had an affair with John, Abigail's credibility would have been ruined.  However, when she lies to save John's reputation, that just gives Abigail even more power.

The importance of Proctor's last speech is that by dying he is able to save himself.  Had he faked a confession, he would have lost his dignity and respect.  He would also have be damned (for lying).  However, by refusing to lie and sign the confession he is really saving himself.

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