Act 3 of The Crucible is the scene in the courtroom when the judge is hearing testimony from different witnesses and deciding whether to admit Mary Warren’s deposition. There are examples of mass hysteria, fear, and guilt. The fact that the girls have whipped the entire town up into a frenzy about witches is one example of mass hysteria. Within the scene, when Abigail points to an imaginary yellow bird flying overhead and whips the other girls into a near trance, this is an example of mass hysteria induced by Abigail’s lies.
But Abigail, pointing with fear, is now raising up her frightened eyes, her awed face, toward the ceiling—the girls are doing the same.
The girls and she are all whimpering and staring at the ceiling where they claim the imaginary bird is hiding. The girls might be pretending. They probably are, but it is also possible that they have almost come under a spell that Abigail casts.
Regardless of the girls' motivation, it is clear that Abigail is able to strike fear in the men in the courtroom, which is an example of mass hysteria and fear. Miller notes that “Hawthorne, Hale, Putnam, Cheever, Herrick, and Danforth do the same.” In other words, they follow Abigail’s eyes and stare at the ceiling. Although they do not see the bird, they become frightened as well.
Giles provides an example of guilt, as we can see through his pleadings with the judge and the court. He feels responsible for his wife being arrested and accused of being witch because he questioned why she spent so much time reading. Sobbing, he tells Danforth that
It is my third wife, sir; I never had no wife that be so taken with books, and I thought to find the cause of it.
However, he prevails on the judge to recognize that his wife is not a witch. Then, he “is openly weeping” over his guilt for having brought this situation on her.
Mary Warren provides an example of fear. She wants to tell the truth and has sworn out a deposition denying her earlier accusations. However, when Abigail and the other girls stand together firmly against her, she becomes fearful and reverts back to stand with them. In response to Mary Warren, Abigail looks about and begins "clasping her arms about her as though cold." She says,
—I know not. A wind, a cold wind, has come. Her eyes fall on Mary Warren.
Mary Warren, terrified, pleading: Abby!
Mercy Lewis, shivering: Your Honor, I freeze!
After this trickery from Abigail and Mercy Lewis following suit, Mary Warren recants her deposition in fear for her own life, knowing the harm that Abigail could cause her.