Act III, Scene 2 Summary
As they debate the legitimacy of the witch trials, Deputy Governor Danforth informs John Proctor that his imprisoned wife, Elizabeth, has told the court that she is pregnant. John says that it must be true, because his wife "will never lie." Danforth decides to wait another month to see if she begins to show. If she does, her pregnancy will buy her another year (the Puritans did not hang pregnant women; they waited until a woman delivered her child and then hanged her).
Though Elizabeth may temporarily be safe, Proctor still refuses to drop his challenge to the court, citing the other innocents who remain in danger. Parris insists that Proctor has come to "overthrow this court," but Marshal Herrick sticks up for Proctor's character. Proctor then presents a "testament," signed by ninety-one people, that attests to the good character of Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and Elizabeth. Parris continues to try to sow doubt, and Hathorne and Danforth decide that all those who signed the petition should be brought in for questioning. The signers should have nothing to fear, Danforth says, if they are of good conscience.
Giles Corey then presents a written deposition alleging that Thomas Putnam has put his daughter Ruth up to accusing people whose land he wants to purchase. Giles, however, refuses to reveal the name of the man who told him of this plot and is thus held in contempt of court. He refuses to name the individual because he doesn't want this man to get in trouble the way the other ninety-one who signed the testament now seem to be. Reverend Hale tries to intervene, clearly growing frustrated with the unfairness of the proceedings. He wants Danforth to allow John and Giles to return and present their evidence with a lawyer, but Danforth feels such a move is unnecessary. Danforth then turns his attention to Mary Warren, who, under questioning, swears that she is telling the truth now (that the accusations were false) and that she lied before.