Which incident in Act 3 provoked the strongest emotional response in you? Why?
Certainly, for me, the moment that provokes the strongest emotional response in Act Three is when Mary Warren turns on John Proctor, once again taking sides with Abigail and the rest of the girls, and accusing him of being in league with the Devil.
The reason it affects me so deeply is that Mary Warren knows, absolutely, that the girls are lying, and thus committing murder; and, ultimately, she makes the same choice. She has been brought to the court, by Proctor, for the sole purpose of exposing the girls' lies. Yet, when she feels herself to be in danger, when the girls are starting to accuse her of sending out her spirit to attack them, she turns on the truth and her employer, knowing full-well that her testimony against him will likely lead to his conviction and death. It is a truly horrific moment. Before she runs into Abigail's arms, she says -- lying, and knowing that she is lying -- that
"[Proctor] wake me every night, his eyes were like coals and his fingers claw my neck, and I sign, I sign . . . [....]. No, I love God; I go your way no more. I love God, I bless God."
She fabricates a story of how Proctor forced her to sign the Devil's book, in order to explain why she accused the other girls of lying. She says, in other words, that the Devil forced her to lie then, and now she tells the truth. In reality, it seems more likely that the Devil coerces her to lie now because it is the easier thing to do. To see her lie, so callously, taking another's life into her own hands because she fears losing her own, is abominable in every moral sense.
In one of the most emotionally provoking moments throughout the play, Abigail begins to act hysterical and pretends that spirits are attacking her in act 3. Proctor then calls Abigail a whore and finally admits to his infidelity in an attempt to ruin Abigail's perception and reputation throughout the community. John Proctor tells Deputy Governor Danforth,
"I have known her, sir. I have known her." (Miller, 110)
Proctor then elaborates on when he had his affair with Abigail, and Danforth calls for Elizabeth after John informs him that his wife knew about the affair. When Elizabeth Proctor enters the scene, Deputy Governor Danforth tells both Abigail and John to turn their backs to her and asks Elizabeth if her husband is a lecher. In an attempt to save her husband's reputation, Elizabeth says, "No, sir" (114). Ironically, Elizabeth ends up dooming her husband by attempting to protect his reputation. Elizabeth is then taken away, and Abigail continues to act like an evil spirit is attacking her.
John Proctor admitting his affair is his final, desperate attempt at overthrowing the court. His wife's defense of his reputation is shocking, as the audience watches hopelessly as John's chances of overthrowing the court diminish.