Hale soon realises that none of what Abigail has said is true and he, John Proctor and some other men from the village go to the court and try to convince the judges, John even comes clean about his affair with Abigail calling her a ‘Whore. ‘ However Abigail gets around that and gets them arrested. Anyone who upsets Abigail pays for it. Nevertheless, Abigail runs away to Boston with all her uncles’ money, in fear of being found out, and that’s when everybody realises how spiteful she has been.
They also realise that they have hanged many innocent people.
They ask Elizabeth to speak to Proctor on the morning of his hanging, and persuade him to confess to save himself, to name others and save them too. She says that she won’t promise to anything but she would like to speak to him anyway. When they talk, John asks her whether he should confess and she just says that she wants him living.
He decides that he will. They hand him a piece of paper to sign to say that he did confess, so that after his hanging it can be stuck on the church door. John cannot understand this so decides to die with his pride instead of living with none.
He believes that because he is telling the truth now and because he owned up to his affair God will now forgive him and he will go to heaven. Elizabeth married again 4 years after John’s death.
In act three, the lies that have been told by all the characters, previously in the story, are brought together to create a huge web of lies in the courtroom. Abigail Williams is the niece of Reverend Samuel Parris and is a witness in the courtroom. She has started a rumour which has made people believe that there is witchcraft present in Salem.
She has been the cause of many people being locked away and others being hanged by accusing them of working with the devil. Abigail started to lie her way out of trouble when she was found dancing with her friends in the forest. Not only, is dancing seen as a sin (‘vain enjoyment’) but the woods is thought to be the devils ‘last preserve’ and to blame the devil for your sins is very clever, as she cannot be proved wrong because these people were all very religious and they all believed in spirits and witchcraft so no one would think to accuse Abigail of lying.
Once she started to lie, and saw that her lies were being believed, Abigail had to lie again and again to get herself out of the previous lies. Abigail’s uncle, concerned about his reputation, as he always is, asks Abigail about what happened the night he caught them in the forest. He assumes the girls have been corrupting spirits with Tituba’s help. ‘Then you were conjuring spirits last night. ‘ ‘Not I sir – Tituba and Ruth. ‘ This is Abigail’s first lie which she told in order to keep out of trouble, if her uncle knew what she was really up to it is extremely likely that she would be whipped, or even hanged.
When Abigail is alone with Betty, Mary Warren and Mercy Lewis, Mary tries to persuade Abigail to tell the truth about what they did. She tells Abigail that they will only be whipped for the things they did but if people believe they had a part in witchcraft they could be hanged. Abigail goes to Betty and tells her that she has told Reverend Parris everything, but Betty says, ‘You drank blood, Abby! You didn’t tell him that! ‘ Abigail gets extremely angry with the girls and tells them that if they tell the truth she will kill them. ‘All of you. We danced.
And Tituba conjured Ruth Putnam’s dead sisters. And that is all. And mark this. Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. ‘ Not only is she constantly telling lies of her own but she is trying to persuade others to lie too, to keep her out of trouble. Reverend Parris asked Reverend Hale of Beverly to come and help him with the recent situation in Salem. He questions Abigail about the night she was found with her friends in the forest.
Parris tells Hale he saw a kettle with something in it, but Abigail insists that it was only soup. ‘I think I ought to say that I – I saw a kettle in the grass where they were dancing. ‘ ‘That were only soup. ‘ Abigail is trying her hardest to make the incident sound as innocent as she can. She is trying to cover up the fact that what was actually in the pot was some sort of charm she had asked Tituba to brew, to kill Goody Proctor, so she could have her husband, John all to herself. However, she is struggling to convince them as it is not very often you are found dancing around a pot of soup.
Later, in the interview, when Hale finds out that it was not soup, he asks Abigail whether she drank the brew. At first she says she never, that Tituba tried to make her drink it but she refused. Then she changes her mind and says that she didn’t want to but Tituba made her drink it, just like she’d been making her do other things such as laughing at prayer in church. Abigail knows she often does this and it is wrong, so it won’t look so suspicious if they think Tituba has made her do things before the night in the forest. ‘She made me do it! ‘
‘She sends her spirit on me in church; she makes me laugh at prayer! ‘ Abigail tries to keep herself out of trouble once again by lying, but when she realises her uncle and Reverend Hale are suspicious of her she resorts to blaming Tituba. Black slaves were treated badly as it is, because of there race, and Abigail knows if she passes the blame to her, the suspicion will turn her way quickly. Tituba is brought to Hale and she is warned that if she does not confess to working alongside the devil, she will be whipped to death. Hale says that if she opens up to him, God will forgive her and she will go to heaven.
She knows she hasn’t done anything that Abigail is accusing her of doing but in fear of being killed, she says Satan forced her to work for him. Tituba gives the names of several people in the village and say she saw them with the devil too. Abigail sees what Tituba is doing and decided to join her, to save herself once more. ‘And I look – and there was Goody Good. ‘ ‘I saw Goody Hawkins with the devil! ‘ Abigail has seen how Tituba was treated when she confessed and she knew that she would not be punished as she was seen as a child in the eyes of her uncle and the other villagers.
Mary Warren comes home late from the court, to the Proctors, where she is working as a servant and gives Elizabeth a small rag doll. She explains that she had passed the time in the courtroom by sewing, and making the poppet as a gift for her. Abigail, who was sitting next to Mary in the courtroom, suggests that Mary give Elizabeth it, as a gift. Later at dinner Abigail falls to the floor clutching her stomach, when he looks, her uncle finds a large needle pushed a few inches into Abigail’s skin. She blames Elizabeth and Cheever is sent round to the Proctors to investigate.
‘So will you hand me any poppets that your wife may keep here? ‘ ‘Why, this is Mary’s. ‘ ‘Herrick, it is a needle! ‘ Abigail saw Mary place a needle in the poppet for safe keeping and planted the doll on Elizabeth, so that she could place the needle in her own stomach and lay the blame on Elizabeth. Abigail wants Elizabeth out of the way so that she can have John all to herself, as she still loves him after the affair they had. However, John can see what she is up to. In act three we realise that the village church has been converted into the village courtroom.
Both church and courtroom buildings are institutions of authority; the church of God’s authority and the court, the authority of justice. It makes sense to use the church for this reason and also, the church is the largest building in the village. The two buildings have a lot in common as God is seen as the ultimate judge and the court has its own judges. If the judges wrongly accuse anyone they will be judged by god and he will not forgive them for murder. However those who were falsely condemned will go to heaven.
Justice is not something seen in this courtroom, as Abigail continues to spin her ever-growing web of lies and the judge’s are on her side. John Proctor persuades his servant Mary Warren to go with him to the court to explain all about what Abigail has been up to. When they arrive at the court Judge Danforth at first won’t let them in, but he eventually lets them have their say. John tells Mary Warren to explain to Danforth and the other judges how Abigail has been lying from the start and made the other girls lie too.
She says that she has never seen any spirits and that when she fainted she was only pretending. They struggle to believe her and ask her if Proctor has threatened her to make her say it. Abigail denies it all. John has had enough and shouts at Abigail calling her a ‘Whore! ‘ The court is shocked but John comes clean about his affair with Abigail. ‘I have known her, sir. I have known her. ‘ John is prepared to do anything to expose Abigail for what she is and to save his wife. He has ‘rung the doom’ of his good name.
When Danforth asks Abigail whether this is true she does not answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’, she says, ‘If I must answer that, I will leave and I will not come back again! ‘ Danforth brings Elizabeth in as John says she will not lie. However, Elizabeth cannot call her husband a lecher and so lies thinking to save him. Hale says that it is natural to lie and to save a loved one and says that he has never really trusted Abigail. Because Hale is insulting Abigail, she screams and starts shouting things and starts to set Mary up by telling everyone in the courtroom that Mary is sending her spirit onto them. The other girls join in.