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

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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.