Act IIII, Scene 3 Summary
Danforth calls for Abigail and the other girls, wanting to discuss Mary Warren's charge that Abigail is lying. Abigail flatly denies this, and Danforth begins questioning Mary about her ability to faint in court and asks her to demonstrate. Mary is unable to faint on command in front of them and suggests that the hysteria created by all of the other girls in the moment is what allowed her to faint.
Danforth asks Abigail whether it's possible that she has been mistaken and only imagined the presence of spirits. Outraged and defensive, Abigail accuses Danforth of mistrusting her, and he begins to back down. Abigail then begins acting as if she is freezing and accuses Mary of sending her spirit out to hurt her. The other two girls follow Abigail's lead and do the same thing.
John Proctor interrupts their pretend fit, grabbing Abigail and accusing her of being a whore. Everyone present is shocked, but John goes on to admit that he has known her sexually. He explains that Elizabeth fired Abigail because she knew her for a whore. Danforth wants Elizabeth to confirm this, and Elizabeth is brought into the courtroom. She is asked why she dismissed Abigail, and Elizabeth—unaware of what John has confessed—tries to protect his reputation by saying that she was simply unhappy with Abigail. She is then directly asked if John is a lecher, and she lies and says no. Danforth orders her removed as John yells out that he has already confessed. Hale tries to defend Elizabeth, arguing that it was a "natural lie to tell."
Abigail—likely beginning to panic—starts screaming hysterically, as do the other girls. They mimic Danforth and act like they see a bird in the building. Abigail says the bird has been sent by Mary to harm her. Under the weight of their accusations, Mary finally breaks down and pretends to be possessed as well, turning on John and accusing him of being the "Devil's man." Danforth urges John to confess, but John states that God must be dead if such things are happening. John and Giles Corey are taken away to jail, and the scene closes as Hale storms out of the court, denouncing the proceedings.