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Character Analysis of Mary Warren from 'The Crucible'

Samarpita Choudhury
Witchcraft was a menace that took a toll on innocent lives for a long time. With the occurrence of Red Scare, Arther Miller retreated back in the 17th century and related the plight of the villagers of Salem, through his brainchild creation 'The Crucible'. The chief character is Mary Warren.


During the Salem Witch Trial, the general masses were accused of practicing witchcraft on grounds of visions and dreams of the accuser. Also, opposed to burning the witches, as is the general belief, the 'witches' of Salem were hanged to death, with the exception of an 80-year old farmer, Giles Corey, who was pressed with stones to death.
Arthur Miller produced a theatrical presentation in 1953, in the form of a play. The play was inspired by the notorious Salem Witch Trials that had caused havoc and killed many innocent lives on the pretext of killing witches who were harming the lives of the populace.
The Salem Witch Trials had taken place in the late 16th century in the Salem village of Massachusetts. It was about the inhuman practices that were meted out in the name of witch-hunting.
Salem, a tiny village in the Massachusetts state of the US, had witnessed irreversible changes about three centuries back. Miller was so deeply moved by the incident that he jotted down a play mimicking the nasty incident. Like most of the core beliefs of the English, witchcraft was also amongst the most prevalent one.
The belief in it was so strong that all the wrongs in the society were believed to be the outcome of the demonic forces of Satan, which he engineered through his followers in the form of witches. Crop failure, maladies, loans, famines, and other such natural calamities were known to be the effect of witchcraft.
Quite strangely, witchcraft was often associated with women who differed from the general behavior of the rest of the people. As for instance, a woman who was single and had none for a family fell easy prey to the blame of being a witch.
Or in other cases, if a woman was not very active in participating in the activities of the Church, or wasn't a regular visitor there, she was invariably outcast and pronounced a witch. It didn't end there.
During that era, America practiced slavery actively. Hence, there were thousands of Africans who were traded for petty amounts and kept as slaves for the rest of their lives. They too were assumed to be witches, owing to their colored skin and vast differences in their local culture. Strange, but true!
In this context, let us first introduce ourselves with the plot of the play The Crucible, following which, we shall take a close look at the character traits of Mary Warren, one of the key characters of in play, and note down an analysis of the same.

The Storyline

# Betty, the nine-year old daughter of Reverend Parris, a minister in Salem, is found in a state of coma, after being caught by her father dancing with her other girlfriends in the forest.

# Amongst the most prominent companions were Abigail, the eleven-year old niece of Parris, and Tituba, the slave girl who was owned by the Parris family.
# Meanwhile, there is a hue-and-cry about the events taking place for unknown reasons. Parris interrogates Abigail, who says they were not up to anything at all, except for dancing.

# Many have gathered at Parris' residence in order to unearth the mystery. Betty continues to show strange signs; she screams, leaving everyone worried about her being bewitched.
# Just at this time, Reverend Hale enters to examine Betty. He is renowned as a stalwart in the studies of witchcraft.

# As part of investigating the state of affairs, Hale has a word with Abigail, following which, there ensues an interrogation round with Tituba by Parris and Hale.
# Soon after the discussion, Tituba admits of having communing sessions with the devil! This isn't the end. Trouble intensifies when Tituba says that there are many in the village who carry out secret meetings with the devil, without anyone's knowledge.
# Well, this too wasn't enough perhaps. Abigail and Betty now confess that they have actually seen people conspiring with the devil against the villagers. They let out names. With this, Salem sees a series of events that are still etched in history, and remind us of that turbulent time.
# This incident begot many other incidents which were unaccounted for. The wives of many prominent men were arrested for being accused as witches.

# One among them was Elizabeth, who was the wife of a farmer named Proctor. They have a maid servant named Mary Warren, who also was one of the girls in Betty's group of girlfriends.
# Quite hopeful that Betty and her group of friends were crafting stories, Proctor convinces Mary to admit it in the presence of the authorities.

# At this instant, there takes place multiple blame-games and accusations among the Salem people, leading to no solution, but to more untold miseries. The girls in turn accuse Mary of bewitching them.
# The court authority rejects Proctor's claim, and questions Mary with such rigidity that she names Proctor as the mastermind and a communicator with Satan.

# There were unnecessary actions and situations which cropped up because of those actions. With the changing seasons, the change for better in Salem was far from reality.
# Abigail robbed Parris of all his money. Proctor was executed along with the other accused. Parris lost his job and eventually left Salem, to be never heard of again. Salem still laid in devastation with unattended children, barren land, and corpses.

Mary Warren's Persona

Innocent and Submissive

* She is introduced by the author as a young, credulous girl, who liked to have her little bits of fun and play, with no intention to cause harm to others by her actions.

* She is drawn in the falsity created by the girls in order to avert chiding, when caught in their act of midnight dancing.
* She was influenced by the girls to such an extent that she consciously or subconsciously posed the fits and other physical changes that happen while someone is bewitched. However, when not in her friends' company, she failed to experience the same.
* But upon realization, she persuades Abigail to spell the truth about the incident, but in vain. This shows that she was not among those who blissfully caused discomfort to others.


* Mary had this urge to be a part of the group. She didn't take much into her consideration, the outcome of being a part of the wrong group. When she did, it was way too late.
* Mary Warren was employed by the Proctors. She is introduced as a docile personality who occupies the last place in the strata of societal divide.

* She is one of the many companions of Betty and Abigail, who finds pleasure in doing things that the girls did.


* Mary is seen giving in to any kind of external force induced over her. She supports the false allegations of witches and witchcraft, in fear of being outcast by her mates.

* We find her losing herself to Proctor, when he compels her to accept the truth in front of the authority. Though this was in good intent, yet, we find Mary an easy prey to manipulation.
* Later, we also find that, upon being questioned by the officials, and subjected to the lies told by the rest of the girls, Mary, once again, drifted away from the truth. Like the others, she too raised a finger against Proctor, who was innocent of witchcraft.

The Sense of Power

* This was strange but true. Mary could redeem her sense of pride, and could associate herself as being 'somebody' from 'nobody'. Now that she is amongst those who could name the witches in Salem, she was proud of her authority and contribution in the overall situation.
* She gets attention from people who didn't care for her, until she found herself as the cynosure of the event.

* Her sheer sense of being in a position of power, and lack of courage, guides her away from truth. Thus, unwanted though, she manages to direct people's lives in the wrong direction.

Mary's Role in the Event

* It is also important to know that she was never shown in bad light by the author. But the only fallacy in her personality was her inability to hold on to the truth.
* She never had the courage to stand for what she believed in the most. She was easily manipulated into activities and speeches she hardly believed in.

* She was elated to have won the importance that she received from all squares because of the witchcraft incident.
From the point of view of narration, Mary Warren is a superb way to hold the tension and the curiosity of the viewers. She is such a character that will garner both sympathy and contempt. On the whole, a nice character created by Arthur Miller. Kudos to his thoughts and portrayal of the character.