I believe that the most compelling scene in The Crucible remains in act 3, starting when Susana Walcott, Grace Lewis, Betty Paris and Abigail Williams get in the court (page 91), and ending when the curtain falls at the end of the act (page 105). The tension in this scene partly originates from our knowledge of Mary Warren and how timid she is. Frequently she wishes to make up her own mind but finds she follows others rather because it is simpler.
This has actually currently been shown in stage directions in Act 2 when she declares to Proctor that what she does in court is God’s will and that she will not take being treated as a child by Proctor any longer, all the while acting uncertain.
“retreating from him, but keeping her erect posture, making every effort, pursuing her method.” She does not always understand what she wants and tries to defend what she believes she desires. A good example of this is in Act 2 when Proctor orders her to bed and she declares “I’ll not be ordered to bed no more, Mr Proctor!
I am eighteen and a female, nevertheless single!” to which Proctor responds “Do you want to sit up? Then stay up.
” And Mary ends up opposing herself “I want to go to bed!” The audience feels that she wishes to stand up for herself again in Act 3, since she wants to inform the authorities the truth but then winds up picking the easy course and reversing to blame Proctor when she is forced to much to defend herself.
During Mary Warren’s questioning, and particularly when she is informed to faint, the audience feels acutely her desperation at being requested to perform such a difficult feat. It is easy to comprehend why she can not pass out without the girls and Danforth’s pressurising does not help. Initially he turns around and informs her to “Faint!” when she is not expecting it, then when she attempts to explain why she can not faint right there and Danforth replies with “Why? What is lacking now?
” Mary can not discover a response to this since physically, absolutely nothing is lacking. We can see her frustration at not having the ability to explain how the atmosphere effected how she fainted in the past and this leads us to sympathise with her, whilst at the same time feeling disappointed towards Danforth and his lack of understanding of human nature. Due to the fact that of this, even when she accuses Proctor of being “the Devil’s guy”, we can see that she was under a lot of pressure, driven to hysterics, and it was the only way out for her.