The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Why does Mary Warren change her testimony and turn on John Proctor in The Crucible?

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Mary Warren has always been understandably reluctant to support the Proctors with legal testimony. She is bound to be called a liar, since her story now is that she was lying and dissimulating earlier in the trials, and she does not stand up well under Danforth's initial interrogation. Her inability to pretend to faint when required to do so makes it very clear that her histrionic powers are vastly inferior to Abigail's.

When she is faced with Abigail's convincing pretense that Mary has sent her spirit out, there is no serious contest between the two of them. Abigail has Mercy Lewis, Susanna Walcott, and the other "children" backing her up, and they engage in a sadistic and deadly version of "the shadow game," repeating everything Mary says. This gives rise to hysteria—which affects even Danforth.

The pressure on Mary becomes intolerable at this point. Abigail and her accomplices—Danforth and Proctor as well as the whole weight of both sides in a deadly dispute—bear down upon her...

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