Pandemonium runs rampant, and suppressed children cry out witch. Scenes such as these from Arthur Miller’s play The Crucible, provides a fictional depiction of the infamous 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials. During the play, the entire community suffers from the mass hysteria that starts with a few young girls dancing in the woods. When the girls are inflicted with abnormal illnesses and problems, the community assumes that witchcraft is involved. After many accusations, trials, and executions, the community’s hysteria finally ends.
Certain characters fight their own internal battles against the backdrop of an entire community in pandemonium. Miller uses three characters who clearly manifest this internal battle. First, Mary Warren’s whole personality turns upside down when she is torn between telling the truth and surviving the trials.
John Proctor is the next who is forced to contemplate a choice between the importance of his family and his own name. The third, Reverend Hale, battles with himself about whether or not to carry out his job requirements or to do what he knows is right. All three characters face difficult choices that are eating away at each one’s conscience. Should they do what they believe is right, or what will help them survive the witch trials? Each character and situation is unique, beginning with Mary Warren. Inner turmoil plagues a girl named Mary Warren, house servant to the Proctors, throughout the play. When Mary first appears in the beginning of the hysteria, the reader perceives her to be a very shy girl who will never speak her mind. She is afraid to stand up to Abigail and tell the truth about what really happens in the woods the night Reverend Parris catches them dancing. What happens in the woods is more than just dancing, though.
Abigail makes life threats against all the girls involved in the dancing, scaring Mary Warren. This submissive characteristic also shows itself when John Proctor comes to Reverend Parris’s house to tell Mary to go home and have no part in all this nonsense. As before, she is afraid to speak her mind to John Proctor and responds to his orders with “I’m just going home” (21), implying to the reader that she is doing what he wishes because she is afraid to speak her mind. As the play continues and as Abigail influences her, Mary begins to break this self-restricting mold and does what she wants in regard to the Proctors and herself. Mary Warren, along with many other girls, becomes enthralled in the hype of getting all the attention from the community and exercising power through initiating and obstinately continuing these “witch trials.
” When John Proctor finally shows that when people like Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor, who are the saintliest of people, stand accused of practicing witchcraft that something must be wrong, it affects Mary’s role. When John questions Mary after her day as an official of the court, she tells him “she Goody Osborne tried to kill me many times” (57). After saying this, Mary then realizes that her whole outlook on life bases on injustice and faces a difficult decision.
This proves true when she begins sobbing and cries out in guilt, “Goody Osburn- will hang!” (56). Reluctantly, she must decide how she can extricate herself from Abigail and all her friends, not to mention her new feelings of confidence. Mary decides to speak out against Abigail and the others for their false accusations after John Proctor threatens her. Yet, as Mary does this heroic act of overcoming her old reality, Abigail pretends that Mary is also a witch, ironically using the same spasms of fits that Mary uses during the trials to convict so many others (108).
Mary now faces yet another grueling internal conflict. Should she do what she knows is right and probably die for it or return to her old ways? Mary finally succumbs to Abigail’s hypnosis and accuses John Proctor of forcing her to lie. Clearly, the battle that Mary Warren faces from the very beginning is enormous. She must deal with the decision of life and death.
She has the choice to tell the truth and die, or to lie and live. This decision is similar