How does Abigail turn the court against Mary Warren in The Crucible?

Abigail turns the court against Mary Warren in The Crucible by pretending that Mary's spirit is preparing to attack her from the rafters. Abigail pretends to see Mary's spirit in the form of a menacing bird, and the girls follow her lead. Abigail begs Mary not to hurt her and begins repeating everything she says. Abigail and the girls' performance influences Mary Warren to take their side and falsely accuse John Proctor of working with the devil.

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In the play, Abigail Williams is a crafty, insensitive young woman with an "endless capacity for dissembling." She is primarily responsible for spreading the witchcraft hysteria that consumes Salem and is the leading figure in the powerful court. Abigail also threatens the other girls to corroborate her story, and they mimic her actions during the intense trials. Abigail and the girls continually faint, gasp, and shriek during the proceedings when they pretend to be attacked by invisible spirits. Abigail uses this tactic to sway the court against Mary Warren in act 3 when she testifies that they are frauds.

When Mary testifies that she was never attacked by any spirits and confesses that the girls were pretending during the trials, Abigail responds by acting like Mary's spirit is threatening her life. Abigail looks to the ceiling and pretends to see an invisible yellow bird. Abigail puts on an act and proceeds to carry on a conversation with the invisible bird by saying, "My face? My face?! But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face. Envy is a deadly sin, Mary." Abigail shifts the focus to Mary by pretending that Mary's spirit is the invisible bird preparing to attack her face.

Mary panics during Abigail's act, and the other girls join in. Abigail's followers also point to the ceiling and beg Mary to exercise mercy on them while Mary frantically denies everything. John Proctor desperately attempts to convince Danforth that the girls are lying, but Abigail remains in character. The girls then begin mimicking Mary's words, and Danforth grows hysterical. When the intensity reaches its highest level, Mary Warren breaks down and tells Danforth that Proctor works for the devil. Mary proceeds to offer a fabricated story of how the devil came to her in the night and told her to challenge the court with John Proctor. Proctor then recognizes that Salem's authority figures are completely irrational and shouts, "I say … God is dead!"

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In act 3, John Proctor escorts Mary Warren to Salem's court, where she addresses Deputy Governor Danforth and confesses that Abigail Williams and the other girls are falsely accusing innocent citizens of witchcraft. Mary Warren testifies that the girls are frauds and simply pretending to be attacked by malevolent spiritual forces during the proceedings. Mary's astonishing confession threatens to undermine the court, and Abigail Williams is called forth to respond to Mary's weighty allegations.

Abigail flatly denies Mary's allegations and even threatens Danforth when he questions the legitimacy of her accusations. Abigail then begins to freeze and pretends that Mary's spirit is about to attack them. However, Proctor interrupts them and confesses to adultery in an attempt to damage Abigail's reputation and reverse her momentum.

Unfortunately, Elizabeth lies to protect John's reputation, and Danforth accuses him of attempting to undermine Salem's court. Once Elizabeth is removed from the court, Proctor and Reverend Hale argue on her behalf and Abigail begins to pretend that Mary's spirit is threatening her. When Abigail points at the ceiling and pretends to see a menacing yellow bird, the girls follow her lead and act like they also see the imaginary bird, which is supposed to be Mary's spirit. Abigail and the girls then begin to repeat everything Mary says, and Danforth accuses Mary of colluding with the devil. Eventually, Mary succumbs to the pressure and joins Abigail in accusing Proctor of being the "Devil's man."

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When Mary first tells her story to the court, Danforth turns to Abigail and asks her if any of it is true.  Abigail first protests against being questioned in this way, and then she openly threatens Danforth.  She suddenly looks quite scared and says, "A wind, a cold wind, has come.  Her eyes fall on Mary Warren."  She goes cold, so that when Hathorne touches her, he confirms it, and she is "shivering visibly."  The other girls -- Mercy Lewis and Susanna Walcott -- see what Abgail is doing and follow suit, saying how they freeze, too.  The ploy works: Danforth turns to Mary and asks, in a very accusatory way, if she is witching Abigail and sending her spirit out to hurt her. 

Later in Act Three, after Elizabeth Proctor has left the court, Abigail pretends to see a "yellow bird" upon the beam overhead, and she speaks to it as though it were Mary.  She says, "But God made my face; you cannot want to tear my face.  Envy is a deadly sin, Mary [....].  Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape."  Again, the other girls chime in to back Abigail up, and they all begin to repeat whatever Mary says, making it seem as though she is controlling them.  Danforth asks Mary, "A little while ago you were afflicted.  Now it seems you afflict others; where did you find this power? [....] You have seen the Devil, have you not?"  Abigail has successfully cast doubt onto Mary's story and Mary herself.

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In Act 3, Mary Warren is forced by John Proctor to come back to the court to tell the judges that the girls are lying and always have been and that everything that they are claiming has taken place never really happened.  When Mary comes back to tell the judges this, they invite Abigail and the other girls into the courtroom.  At this point, Abigail pretends to see a yellow bird on one of the rafters in the room.  The other girls then pretend to see it as well.  Abigail talks to the bird and asks it why it has come, begs it to leave her alone, and calls it "Mary" -- Abigail is trying to incriminate Mary Warren by making the judges think that she is sending out her spirit on Abigail and the girls in the form of a yellow bird that is trying to attack them.  Unfortunately, the court does believe that there is an invisible bird and instead of getting herself in trouble, she sides with Abigail and calls John Proctor a witch.

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