Act three takes place in court. Francis Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor
present their case against the girls to Deputy Governor Dansforth and Judge
Hathorne. Proctor presents a petition signed by 91 people testifying to the
good character of their wives, and Dansforth issues warrants for the questioning
of all of them. Corey charges Putnam on inciting his daughter to accuse Corey
of witchcraft in order to get his land. Corey has a witness but will not name
him for fear of getting the man arrested. Corey is arrested because of contempt
of the court.
Proctor presents his case and shows a deposition signed by Mary Warren saying
that she never saw the devil or any spirits. Abigail says that Mary is lying
and she and the girls pretend to be bewitched by Mary. Proctor, frustrated
at the gullibility of the court, grabs Abigail by the hair and exclaims to
everyone that she is a whore confessing that he had an affair with Abigail.
Elizabeth is brought in to be questioned about whether this is true. Elizabeth
tells the court that John Proctor never had an affair with Abigail in order
to save his name, however, this destroys Proctors testimony. Mary crumbles
under the peer pressure and returns to Abigails side, accusing Proctor
of being a witch. The girls pretend to be bewitched by Proctor. Proctor accuses
Danforth of being afraid to reveal the truth.
Dansforth acts more out of concern to keep the reputation of the court rather
than to find justice. Reverend Hale now sees the evil in the court and denounces
the proceedings. Proctor is arrested.
John, in the beginning, wanted to keep distant from the trials. He did not
want to have a part, whether good or bad. When Elizabeth was arrested, he
was forced to become part of it. He went to court first to set his wife free
but after watching the proceedings, he saw that the evil was not only being
done to his own wife but many others like his wife. As a result, he worked
even harder to free the other innocent people, getting himself arrested.
Despite this drawback, he did not give up. He had the chance to free himself
if he testified against the others but he realized that this would be wrong,
and even though he wanted to free himself, he would not if it meant bringing
trouble upon others. He cleansed himself at the trial, standing for what he
knew was right and died a righteous person. Though he stayed away from church,
he became more pure than the common Puritans, dying as a martyr like the original
apostles. He learned what truth meant through his suffering.
Through Proctors struggle, Miller displays the struggles within each
of our own hearts. Many times we have witnessed some wrong happening to some
other person and wished not to get involved. However, sometimes, like Proctor,
there might be something that forces us in. Would we be quit after only saving
our wife like Proctor could have done, or would we go for the entire community
as Proctor did?
Danforth felt the law should be followed exactly, and that anyone who opposed
the trials was trying to undermine him and his authority and the church.