"Crucible" Project: Mary Warren
Jane Doe, John Doe
What commentary does “The Crucible” say about two of the following themes: reputation, power, and revenge?
The author of “The Crucible”, Arthur Miller, seems to be saying that power-hungry people will do what they have to in order to gain it, even though it destroys the reputations of other people. The characters with pure reputations seem to be destroyed by those who abuse power to protect themselves. On the other hand, power-hungry characters like Abigail Williams and Mr. Danforth abuse their power to control others.. It's almost as if the play's author is trying to warn the audience to avoid becoming powerful at all costs, because power corrupts and causes people to make bad choices and harm others.
Mary Warren’s character shows how power corrupts and destroys reputations. In Act I, she is described as a “naive, lonely girl”, meaning she probably has no friends and wants to be accepted. She allows Abigail to threaten her life if she tells the truth about the events in the forest, which demonstrates how easily she will fall prey to those more powerful or forceful than she. However, because Mary Warren does possess some power as a court official, she destroys the reputation of others by accusing them of witchcraft, eventually accusing her employer John Proctor at the end of Act III. Though always fearing Abigail and the consequences of lying to the court, Mary Warren effectively becomes a slave to Abigail’s abusive power. Furthermore, she helps destroy the good reputations of people like Elizabeth and John Proctor, who only wanted the truth to be known but whose reputations were destroyed.
This song demonstrates Mary Warren's possible remorse over accusing John Proctor of witchcraft.
How does the character’s personality, actions, and motivations impact these themes?
Mary Warren’s decisions and actions greatly develop this theme in Acts II and III. In Act II, Mary Warren attempts to use her power to get her way - she wants to decide when to go to bed versus stay up late - and even brags a little bit to the Proctors about how her testimony eventually lands Sarah Osborne in jail. However, when presented with Proctor’s command that she will help him tell the truth about Abigail’s lies to free Elizabeth from jail, all sense of power Mary Warren felt early on dissolves into hysteria. She knows her reputation as a court official is at stake, and probably hears Abigail’s threat to kill her echoing in her mind. If she tells the truth, she know she will hang (as Danforth later confirms), and Abigail might come after her anyway.
But it is in Act III that the audience sees how damaging Mary Warren is to Proctor’s credibility as a reliable witness. She is powerless to do anything except sob and be unable to speak the truth. When she cannot faint on command, she uses the excuse, “I saw everyone else doing it” in an attempt to explain why she got wrapped up in ....
Mary Warren knows she is a slave to Abigail's demands.
Danforth, John Proctor, and Abigail corner Mary Warren.
In a fit of insanity, Mary Warren cracks like an egg.