Of the characters in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” Mary Warren, a minor character, is actually one of the most important, dynamic characters. She goes from being a lonely, shy, frightened teenager to being a brave witness with a backbone, in court. But her change is short-lived, however, and she retreats to being a scared, wimpy girl.
Mary Warren, the scared, wimpy girl that she is, is lonely at the beginning of the play and has been spending time with Abigail Williams. When there is talk in the town about witchcraft after the girls are found dancing in the forest, she starts worrying about what will happen to them if they are called witches. Mary says, “Abby, we’ve got to tell. Witchery’s a hangin’ error, a hangin’ like they done in Boston two year ago! We must tell the truth, Abby! You’ll only be whipped for dancin’, and the other things!” (Act I, p.18) She is showing her worrisome self and doesn’t want to get herself and the other girls into trouble.
Mary gets Elizabeth Proctor into trouble when she becomes an official of the court. She makes Elizabeth a poppet and this gets her into trouble when Cheever comes to arrest her for witchcraft; there is a needle found in the poppet and is supposed to be the cause of Abigail’s pain. When Mary is questioned about it, she replies, frightened and unsure how to act, “Why, I–I think it is mine. It–is, sir.” (Act II, p.71) She tries to be cool about it but sounds like she is trying to hide something.
John Proctor tells Mary she is going to go to court with him and tell them the truth so that his wife and the other innocent people will be freed. Mary resists and tries to avoid it by telling Proctor that, “She’ll kill me for sayin’ that! Abby’ll charge lechery on you, Mr. Proctor!” (Act II, p.76) But John doesn’t care and finally persuades her to go.
Mary is her strongest when she is at the court. She tells Deputy Danforth that “it were pretense” and she “never saw no spirits.” (Act III, p.98,99) She is strong and answers all the questions she is asked, and does not falter until Abigail and the other girls make her crazy by mimicking her and claim that she is sending out evil spirits on them. Mary can’t handle it and yells at Proctor, “You’re the Devil’s man! I’ll not hang with you! I love God, I love God.” (Act III, p.110) Proctor is taken aback and is condemned and arrested.
Mary returns to where she started.
Mary Warren is a dynamic character for only a few pages, never- theless she is still important to the purpose of the play. She shows that even a weak, insecure person can have their moment of honor and importance. It is the persistence of others that bring them down and cause them to fall.