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PROCTOR, moving menacingly toward her: You will tell the court how that poppet come here and who stuck the needle in.
MARY WARREN: She'll kill me for sayin' that! Proctor continues toward her. Abby'll charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor!
PROCTOR, halting: She's told you!
MARY WARREN: I have known it, sir. She'll ruin you with it, I know she will.
PROCTOR, hesitating, and with deep hatred of himself: Good. Then her saintliness is done with. Mary backs from him. We will slide together into our pit; you will tell the court what you know.
MARY WARREN, in terror: I cannot, they'll turn on me –
Proctor strides and catches her, and she is repeating, "I cannot, I cannot!"
PROCTOR: My wife will never die for me! I will bring your guts into your mouth but that goodness will not die for me!
MARY WARREN, struggling to escape him: I cannot do it, I cannot!
PROCTOR, grasping her by the throat as though he would strangle her: Make your peace with it! Now Hell and Heaven grapple on our backs, and all our old pretense is ripped away-make your peace! He throws her to the floor, where she sobs, "I cannot, I cannot.. " And now, half to himself, staring, and turning to the open door: Peace. It is a providence, and no great change; we are only what we always were, but naked now. He walks as though toward a great horror, facing the open sky. Aye, naked! And the wind, God's icy wind, will blow! (II.427-436)
Proctor appears to be almost relieved that his adultery with Abigail has been revealed to Mary Warren. Now he has even less hesitation about insisting on justice in the court – and expects to lay bare his mistakes so that his wife and her good name may be cleared. The thought of his wife dying is unthinkable for Proctor, especially now that he is beginning to appreciate the value of her honesty.
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.