How does Proctor feel about the court and Mary Warren's part in the proceedings?How has Mary changed?
In act 2, Elizabeth tells John that Mary Warren is in Salem because she is considered an official of the court. John is initially astonished at Elizabeth's information and dismisses the court's importance by telling his wife that they will never hang the accused citizens. Elizabeth then proceeds to tell her husband how the community reveres Abigail Williams and the other girls testifying against the accused citizens.
Proctor concludes that the proceedings are "black mischief" and reprimands Mary when she arrives home. Mary Warren then proudly explains how thirty-nine people have been accused of witchcraft and reveals her elevated self-esteem by challenging John Proctor. When John forbids Mary from traveling to Salem the next day, Mary responds by telling John,
"I must tell you, sir, I will be gone every day now. I am amazed you do not see what weighty work we do." (58)
Proctor becomes enraged and threatens to whip Mary, who stands up to him. Mary once again reveals her confidence by telling John, "I’ll not stand whipping anymore!" (59) Mary then mentions how she saved Elizabeth's life in court after her name was brought up.
Overall, Proctor is astonished to hear the news about Salem's court and does not support its rulings. He rejects the court's authority and forbids Mary from participating in the witch trials. In regards to Mary's attitude, she has gained a considerable amount of confidence and feels like an entitled, popular member of the community. The witch trials have given her a voice, and she enjoys being held in high regard by the citizens of Salem.
Proctor has very strong feelings against the court and Reverend Parris. He finds them both hypocritical and unfit to judge. Ultimately, he still is naive in thinking that this will all get straightened out without his having to go. Elizabeth is putting a lot of pressure on him to do the right thing and tell what he knows about Abigail.
Proctor is furious that Mary has disobeyed his orders to stay away from Salem. He is about to beat her when she tells him she will be going to court every day until she takes the steam right out of him by stating that Elizabeth had been accused.
Mary grows more confident as she asserts that it was her testimony that there was no indication of witchcraft in the house that has saved Elizabeth. This is not the same Mary that we saw in act one who was timid and frightened of her employer. Mary has gained power from her participation in the court proceedings and is enjoying the fact that Proctor no longer controls her.
Proctor is fearful of the court. He knows too well how vindictive and envious the townspeople are. All they need is a little incentive and who knows how bad things will get. He is angry at Mary for going to court and neglecting her duties as their servent . Mary changes because now she has power, which as a young girl and servant, she has never had anything like that before.