What is Mary Warren's role and significance in The Crucible?

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In addition to her character and the role she plays in terms of the plot, I think the importance of her role as a symbol is even more significant. Mary realizes the truth—that there are not witches in Salem attempting to topple religion—around the end of act 2, when she learns of Abigail's story regarding the poppet. Then, she goes with her employer, John Proctor, and two other men, Giles Corey and Francis Nurse, to the court to present her new testimony: namely, that Abigail and the other girls are lying to the court and that she, herself, was mistaken when she thought she felt and saw the effects of witches earlier. Proctor compels her, despite her fear of Abigail, to take the moral high ground.

However, once her own life is in jeopardy, when the girls accuse her of sending a cold wind to freeze them or sending out her spirit as a yellow bird that wants to "tear [Abigail's] face" (witchcraft, in essence), Mary begins to lie in earnest. She accuses Proctor of being "the Devil's man" and says that she will "go [his] way no more," that she "love[s] God." She tells a further lie, that he tried to persuade her to "go and overthrow the court," a line she is, I'm sure, well aware will satisfy Deputy Governor Danforth of Proctor's guilt and her own honesty. Thus, she comes to represent the kind of person who is willing to stand up to injustice, but only until her own safety is threatened; she stands in for the kind of person who believes in justice, but only so far as it does not endanger her own self.

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As was mentioned in the previous post, Marry Warren is John and Elizabeth Proctor's teenage servant who took the place of Abigail Williams in the Proctor home. Mary Warren is a timid, naive girl who gets taken advantage of and manipulated by Abigail Williams throughout the play. Mary Warren becomes an official of the court and follows Abigail's lead by testifying against various citizens of Salem. Mary Warren buys into the hysteria surrounding witches and genuinely believes in spirits while in court. This position initially emboldens Mary, but she begins feeling guilty after learning that Abigail planted a poppet that would be used to accuse Elizabeth Proctor. Mary fears Abigail and is concerned about her own well-being when she realizes the weight of the situation. Mary then reluctantly agrees to go with John Proctor to testify that all of the girls are lying. However, Mary ends up revoking her confession and siding with Abigail Williams in order to avoid condemnation from Salem's society. Overall, Mary Warren is a frightened, sympathetic character who gets taken advantage of and used throughout the play by Abigail Williams.

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In The Crucible, Mary Warren is John and Elizabeth Proctor's servant. Mary eventually becomes an official in the court and although briefly bending to John Proctor's will, Mary feels empowered by her official position. However, Mary does let Abigail use her in a plot to frame Elizabeth. In Act II, Scene 2, Mary plants a doll which Abigail will later use as evidence to frame Elizabeth. Mary admits to this, but no one believes her. John Proctor tells Mary to tell the court the truth about the doll, but Mary threatens him that if she does this, Abby will charge John with lechery. In Act 3, Mary admits that the girls were all lying. However, since this makes the court look bad, Danforth does not recant any of the charges. 

The other girls turn on Mary and then she sides with them again. Mary is a pawn in all of this. She is caught up in the hysteria and like many others, she's trying to save herself. But she's also at the mercy of the hysteria, constantly torn between the manipulations of John and Abigail. 

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In The Crucible, what choices does Mary Warren make that affect the outcome of her situation?

First, even though Mary Warren seems to understand the consequences of the girls' dancing in the forest and conjuring spirits, she never tells anyone in a position of authority.  Though she initially told Abby and the other girls, "we've got to tell.  Witchery's a hangin' error [....]!  We must tell the truth [...]!" she is simply too cowardly to go against the group.  Her decision not to tell essentially protected her from the other girls' wrath.

Next, Mary Warren does come clean to John Proctor after Elizabeth Proctor has been taken into custody as a result of Abby's accusation that Elizabeth sent her spirit out to attack her with a needle.  She acquiesces to John's desire for her to go to the court and tell the truth, but her inability to stick to the truth -- her decision to, once again, save her own skin when it comes to the other girls -- leads to the continuance of the witch trials and the eventual deaths of many innocent people.

In some ways, Mary Warren's cowardice and her decisions to protect herself rather than her community render her even more responsible for the witch trials than someone like Mr. Hale.  She knows, from the beginning, that the girls are lying; she knows, and she chooses to say nothing.  She had the power all along to put a stop to things, if she'd have been brave enough.  Her cowardice allows her to fade into the background of the story after the episode in the courtroom where she accuses John of being in league with the Devil.  After her moment in the spotlight, Miller seems to say, she fades back into the scenery as just one more person who had the power to stick up for what was right and chose not to.

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What does Mary Warren do that significantly affects the storyline of The Crucible?

Mary Warren's crucial switch from John Proctor's encouragement of truthful testimony to the manipulative pretense of the girls dramatically shifts the entire play. While John has Mary testifying that her previous involvement with the girls was done in order to pretend, the play appears to be moving in the direction of justice. After Abby leads the girls to mock Mary's every word, Mary can't help but cave to peer pressure and she too joins their terrible cries of accusation. This results in John Proctor being quickly discredited and therefore jailed.

Put simply, Mary switches sides. Without her switch, there may have been a chance to put an end to this hysterical witch hunt.

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