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PROCTOR, breathless and in agony: It [Abigail] is a whore!
DANFORTH, dumfounded: You charge-?
ABIGAIL: Mr. Danforth, he is lying!
PROCTOR: Mark her! Now she'll suck a scream to stab me with but-
DANFORTH: You will prove this! This will not pass!
PROCTOR, trembling, his life collapsing about him: I have known her, sir. I have known her.
DANFORTH: You-you are a lecher?
FRANCIS, horrified: John, you cannot say such a –
PROCTOR: Oh, Francis, I wish you had some evil in you that you might know me. To Danforth: A man will not cast away his good name. You surely know that.
DANFORTH, dumfounded: In-in what time? In what place?
PROCTOR, his voice about to break, and his shame great: In the proper place-where my beasts are bedded. On the last night of my joy, some eight months past. She used to serve me in my house, sir. He has to clamp his jaw to keep from weeping. A man may think God sleeps, but God sees everything, I know it now. I beg you, sir, I beg you-see her what she is. My wife, my dear good wife, took this girl soon after, sir, and put her out on the highroad. And being what she is, a lump of vanity, sir- He is being overcome. Excellency, forgive me, forgive me. Angrily against himself, he turns away from the Governor for a moment. Then, as though to cry out is his only means of speech left: She thinks to dance with me on my wife's grave! And well she might, for I thought of her softly. God help me, I lusted, and there is a promise in such sweat. But it is a whore's vengeance, and you must see it now. (III.374-384)
Proctor reveals Abigail’s true motivations, jealousy and desire, at great personal cost to himself. If had made the revelation earlier, perhaps it could have prevented the tragedy of the witch-hunt.
HALE: Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrants; I am a minister of the Lord, and I dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it.
DANFORTH: Mr. Hale, you surely do not doubt my justice.
HALE: I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca Nurse, Your Honor. I'll not conceal it, my hand shakes yet as with a wound! I pray you, sir, this argument let lawyers present to you.
DANFORTH: Mr. Hale, believe me; for a man of such terrible learning you are most bewildered--I hope you will forgive me. I have been many years at the bar, sir, and I should be confounded were I called upon to defend these people. Let you consider, now- To Proctor and the others: And I bid you all do likewise. In an ordinary crime, how does one defend the accused? One calls up witnesses to prove his innocence. But witchcraft is ipso facto, on its face and by its nature, an invisible crime, is it not? Therefore, who may possibly be witness to it? The witch and the victim. None other. Now we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims – and they do testify, the children certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for all their confessions. Therefore, what is left for a lawyer to bring out? I think I have made my point. Have I not?
HALE: But this child claims the girls are not truthful, and if they are not-… (III. 239-243)
Reverend Hale begins to fear the justice of God as he realizes his own position – he may have signed the death warrants of 72 innocent people. But Danforth remains assured of the justice of his position. The problem with Danforth’s position is that in supposing that there are “victims” at all, he has already posited the existence of a crime. But the point of the trial is to decide if a crime has been committed!
PROCTOR, sensing her weakening: Mary, God damns all liars!
DANFORTH, pounding it into her: You have seen the Devil, you have made compact with Lucifer, have you not?
PROCTOR: God damns liars, Mary!
Mary utters something unintelligible, staring at Abigail, who keeps watching the "bird" above.
DANFORTH: I cannot hear you. What do you say? Mary utters again unintelligibly. You will confess yourself or you will hang! He turns her roughly to face him. Do you know who I am? I say you will hang if you do not open with me! (III.483-487)
Under these sorts of conditions, who wouldn’t “confess?” We already know that Mary pretty much goes along with what the groups does, so it’s not a surprise that she would find this situation unbearable. She is usually a meek follower, but here the court makes her into the center of attention.