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Free Study Guide-The Crucible by Arthur Miller-Free Booknotes Summary
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ACT III

Summary (continued)

Danforth calls the girls into court and, after cautioning them to be honest and truthful, asks them whether Mary's assertion that none of them have seen any spirits is true. Abigail says that it is not so. She also denies that she has seen Mary making the poppet in court. She further says that while she was working for the Proctors, Elizabeth always kept poppets. Cheever adds that Elizabeth had told him that she did have some poppets as a young girl; but she does not keep them now. Parris intervenes to say that a poppet can keep for many years and that Elizabeth still might be hiding some.

Proctor points out that Mary has nothing to gain by her deposition. Danforth reminds him that, through Mary, he is accusing Abigail of deliberately attempting to murder Elizabeth. Proctor then produces evidence of earlier mischief done by Abigail and asks Mary to confirm that it was Abigail that had induced the girls to dance naked in the woods. During his testimony, Parris and Hathorne try to interrupt and condemn Proctor with various allegations. Parris also tries to deny the accusation of naked dancing. Hale then reminds Parris that he had told him on his arrival that he had seen a girl dancing naked, but Parris flatly denies saying this.


Hathorne cross-examines Mary and tries to trap her. Parris reminds Mary that she used to become cold during the fainting attacks she had when accusing people of witchcraft. She says that she only pretended to faint; unfortunately, when asked to demonstrate, she is unable to do so. Hathorne and Parris continue to intimidate her, and Danforth, too, starts doubting that her past fits were merely pretended. He asks Abigail whether it is possible that what she saw was an illusion, and Abigail acts insulted. She then claims that Mary is trying to bewitch her and that she is feeling a cold wind blowing. Mercy Lewis and Susanna Walcott also claim that they are suddenly freezing and that Mary is sending out her spirit to bewitch them.

Proctor accuses Abigail of faking the episode and calls her a whore. He admits that he once had sex with her while she worked for them. He says that his wife had caught them and, therefore, dismissed Abigail. Abigail denies this. Danforth asks Herrick to bring Elizabeth into the courtroom. He tells Proctor and Abigail to turn their faces to the wall before she arrives. Elizabeth is asked why she had dismissed Abigail, and, to protect the reputation of her husband, she says that she had done so because she felt that her husband might develop an interest in her. Danforth concludes that Proctor is lying, but Hale asserts that is natural for Elizabeth to have lied in such a circumstance and that Abigail, who has always struck him as false, is motivated by vengeance.

Suddenly, Abigail starts showing signs of being possessed and says that she sees Mary's spirit as a yellow bird on the ceiling rafter ready to attack her. Other girls join her, saying that they, too, see the bird. When Mary starts protesting, they start mimicking her, as if they are under her spell. Mary, feeling trapped and fearing punishment, suddenly starts accusing Proctor of being the "Devil's man," possessing her and getting her to tell lies and accuse her friends. Danforth now accuses Proctor of being in league with the Devil and orders his arrest. Hale denounces the proceedings, which are totally out of hand, and leaves the courtroom.

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