What is the real reason that Mary can’t do what Parris and Danforth ask in Act III of The Crucible?

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bmadnick's profile pic

bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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I think you are referring to the part in Act III when Mary is asked to faint like she had done in court on the other days. Mary now says she was pretending to faint, so Danforth wants her to pretend to faint now. Mary can't pretend to faint at this point because she isn't caught up in the moment of court when the other girls are screaming, and "the whole world cried spirits, spirits,. . ." Mary follows the lead of the other girls, screaming and crying and pretending to see spirits. "I--I heard the other girls screaming, and you, Your Honor, you seemed to believe them, and I--It were only sport in the beginning, sir,. . ." It was fun at first for Mary, but she never dreamed the girls would be believed by the adults. When the ministers and judges believed what they were saying, the girls took it farther because now they had power, something Puritan children usually did not have. Mary realizes she can't convince the court it was all pretense when Abby and the other girls start accusing her of being a witch.

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katemschultz's profile pic

katemschultz | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Mary is terrified of the retribution Abigail promised in Act One. It was fine to confess to John when Abigail was not around, but now Mary is in public, in the courtroom, and becomes terrified of Abigail and what others in the community may say.

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