How does Mary Warren change from Act 1 to Act 2?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act One, Mary Warren is portrayed as a timid, anxious girl, who is intimidated by Abigail's threats. When Mary enters the scene, she immediately encourages Abigail to tell the truth and attempts to distance herself by saying, "I never done none of it, Abby. I only looked!" (Miller, 30)

Abigail responds by ridiculing Mary before she threatens all of the girls. John Proctor then enters the scene and chastises Mary for rejecting her duties and traveling to Salem. Mary responds by apologizing to Proctor for her disobedience and timidly leaves Reverend Parris's home.

In Act Two, Mary Warren is depicted as a confident, self-righteous individual, who openly defies her employer, John Proctor. When Mary enters Proctor's home, he threatens to whip her for disobeying him. Mary Warren responds by saying, "I must tell you, sir, I will be gone every day now. I am amazed you do not see what weighty work we do" (Miller, 55).

Mary Warren has gained confidence as the community of Salem supports her testimonies in court. She is also caught up in the hysteria and truly believes that she is doing the Lord's work. Mary Warren now refuses to be intimidated and chastised by John Proctor. She responds to his threats by saying, "I’ll not stand whipping anymore!" (Miller, 55) Despite Mary's display of confidence and self-assurance, she is still a conflicted child. By the end of Act Two, Proctor forces Mary out of his home to testify against Abigail and the other accusers.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

On a couple of levels, Mary Warren has gained more power.  In Act I, she was shown to be fearful of having danced in the woods and the punishment that the girls will receive because of it.  With Abigail's concoction of lies and accusations, all the girls not only escape punishment, but gain power from it.  Mary Warren is one of those girls.  She is part of the trial in town and has to serve on the jury.  She is able to decide issues of legal guilt and, in the process, life and death.  Miller shows how power can be a narcotic to many and how power can be persuasive.  The idea here is that Mary Warren has power and she likes it.  She begins to carry herself in Act II with more of it, such as forgetting her duties in the Proctor home and outwardly telling John Proctor that she will "do it in the morning."  The idea that she could speak so forwardly and directly is a change from the fearful and timid person of the group in Act I.  Mary Warren now has power and she is not afraid to us it.  In a setting where there is a power vacuum, no clear moral or accepted authority, Miller seems to be suggesting that it is up to individuals to make sure that others do not rise and manipulate power for the wrong reasons.  In this, Mary Warren, as an extension of Abigail, has assumed power primarily because no one else possesses it.