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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.
DANFORTH, sharply to Parris: Bring her out! And tell her not one word of what's been spoken here. And let you knock before you enter. Parris goes out. Now we shall touch the bottom of this swamp. To Proctor: Your wife, you say, is an honest woman.
PROCTOR: In her life, sir, she have never lied. There are them that cannot sing, and them that cannot weep-my wife cannot lie. I have paid much to learn it, sir.
DANFORTH: And when she put this girl out of your house, she put her out for a harlot?
PROCTOR: Aye, sir.
DANFORTH: And knew her for a harlot?
PROCTOR: Aye, sir, she knew her for a harlot.
DANFORTH: Good then. To Abigail: And if she tell me, child, it were for harlotry, may God spread His mercy on you! (III.390-396)
Danforth is horrified by the realization that Abigail’s accusations may be based on personal revenge and jealousy. In order to preserve his self-respect, he has to ignore this possibility and focus on vilifying Proctor.
DANFORTH, with a gleam of victory: And yet, when people accused of witchery confronted you in court, you would faint, saying their spirits came out of their bodies and choked you-
MARY WARREN: That were pretense, sir.
DANFORTH: I cannot hear you.
MARY WARREN: Pretense, sir.
PARRIS: But you did turn cold, did you not? I myself picked you up many times, and your skin were icy. Mr. Danforth, you-
DANFORTH: I saw that many times.
PROCTOR: She only pretended to faint, Your Excellency. They're all marvelous pretenders.
HATHORNE: Then can she pretend to faint now?
PARRIS: Why not? Now there are no spirits attacking her, for none in this room is accused of witchcraft. So let her turn herself cold now, let her pretend she is attacked now, let her faint. He turns to Mary Warren. Faint!
MARY WARREN: Faint?
PARRIS: Aye, faint. Prove to us how you pretended in the court so many times.
MARY WARREN, looking to Proctor: I-cannot faint now, sir,
PROCTOR, alarmed, quietly: Can you not pretend it?
MARY WARREN: I- She looks about as though searching for the passion to faint. I-have no sense of it now, I-
DANFORTH: Why? What is lacking now?
MARY WARREN: I-cannot tell, sir, I-
DANFORTH: Might it be that here we have no afflicting spirit loose, but in the court there were some?
MARY WARREN: I never saw no spirits.
PARRIS: Then see no spirits now, and prove to us that you can faint by your own will, as you claim.
MARY WARREN, stares, searching for the emotion of it, and then shakes her head: I-cannot do it. (III.317-337)
Mary Warren tries to explain that the supernatural things she and the other girls claimed to see were just part of a game, a pretense, but she is unable to reproduce the experience without the entire group doing it together. Mary may seem like a sweet and innocent girl who just got mixed up with the wrong crowd, but she is actually incredibly weak. It’s almost as if she has no personality independent of the people around her.