The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What is Mary Warren's characterization in The Crucible?

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Mary Warren, a servant who replaces Abigail Williams working in the Proctor household, is portrayed as a girl who is easily manipulated and fearful of authority figures. She enjoys the attention she receives as "an official of the court" and even seems to be bragging when she refers to herself in this way, in response to John Proctor's asking her why she is not putting more time into her chores. But her display of pride and vanity makes Proctor angry, because he thinks the witchcraft hysteria is foolishness. Things begin to escalate when Proctor's wife is accused, and Mary Warren is partly at fault for Elizabeth Proctor's arrest by Ezekiel Cheever, resulting from a ploy concocted by Abigail. Mary had given Elizabeth a poppet she made in court that had a needle sticking in it, and Abigail pretended to be bewitched by pain and found a needle in her dress. Proctor sees through this and angrily demands that Mary accompany him to court; she is afraid of him and agrees to put things right and tell the truth and admit the girls were pretending to be stricken by the effects of witchcraft.

However, in court, Abigail realizes that Mary's testimony would expose her own lies. Realizing Mary's weakness and knowing she will for under pressure, Abigail begins to act as if she is bewitched and pretends to see a yellow bird in the rafters. The other girls follow her lead, moaning and pointing. Mary realizes Abigail is pretending, and begs her to stop, but Abigail begins merely repeating Mary's words, and the girls join in. Mary is ostracized by the group that had once made her feel powerful and accepted. It is too much for Mary and she has an emotional breakdown, realizing she will be part of the group of girls again if she plays along, and she does, joining them in accusing more and more villagers of witchcraft.

 

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