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Who intimidates Mary Warren in Act One of The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

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Jazzyb71213 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 18, 2013 at 7:40 PM via web

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Who intimidates Mary Warren in Act One of The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted September 18, 2013 at 8:53 PM (Answer #1)

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Arthur Miller's The Crucible is set in Puritan town of Salem at the time of the infamous witch trials. In this story, as in history, the ringleader of the girls is Abigail Williams. 

As the story opens, we learn that some of the girls in town spent some time in the forest last night, dancing and conjuring spells with Tituba.They know this could get them in serious trouble with their families and their community, so they have to cover themselves. Betty Parris does this by feigning a coma of some kind, and Abigail does it by lying. 

Abigail did the worst deeds of all the girls, so she has the most to lose. When a frightened Mary Warren enters the room, she tells Abby and the others what is happening in the town:

I just come from the farm; the whole country’s talkin’ witchcraft! They’ll be callin’ us witches, Abby! ... Abby, we’ve got to tell. Witchery’s a hangin’ error, a hangin’ like they done in Boston two year ago! We must tell the truth, Abby! You’ll only be whipped for dancin’, and the other things! 

Abigail makes the first threat, reminding Mary Warren that they will all be whipped if that is the case. When Mary has the nerve to remind Abigail that all she did last night was look, the second, more intimidating moment comes from Mercy Lewis.

Mercy, moving menacingly toward Mary: Oh, you’re a great one for lookin’, aren’t you, Mary Warren? What a grand peeping courage you have!

Once Betty "wakes up" and has a great argument with Abigail, Mary Warren is more frightened than ever. She begins to wail, fearing they are all going to be caught and punished. Again it is Abigail who threatens Mary:

Abigail, starting for Mary: I say shut it, Mary Warren! 

Two of the girls act and speak in an intimidating manner toward Mary Warren. Both Mercy Lewis and Abigail Williams intimidate the frightened girl, but Abigail is the one who threatens her.

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