Mary Warren is a young servant girl whose ethics are challenged when she becomes afflicted with terror and intimidation.
She is a maid for John Proctor, and becomes involved in the Salem witch hunt as one of the accusers, led by Abigail Williams. Mary Warren is a very weak person in the play, who gives in to pressure a number of times. Proctor manages to convince her to reveal that she and the other accusers have been fabricating their stories and ‘supernatural experiences’ that have resulted in the arrest of many innocents.
However, Warren’s confession comes to nothing, as Williams accuses Warren of witchcraft, which leads to Warren renouncing her confession and accusing Proctor of forcing her to make it. Proctor is later hanged as he renounces his confession to save his heart and soul.
Mary Warren is a character of weak determination who allows herself to be bullied constantly. She is not an evil person, but her weak will combined with her desire to be someone in the Salem community forces her into a situation in which she does harm to other people.
She attempts to stand up to her main pressure, Abigail Williams, in the crucial court scene in Act III, but her lack of resolve undermines this effort and leads to the climax. Mary Warren’s extremely weak will and timid nature cause her to feed the theme in the play that people will often succumb society pressuring them towards an easier end rather than stand up and do what they know is right.
The essential conflict Mary Warren encounters is admitting to the court that the trials are simply pretend. Internally, she realizes that the accusations are morally wrong and cruel. The trial is based on hatred and revenge, resulting in the condemning and execution of innocent villagers. However, Mary feels threatened to speak out against wicked Abigail. “I cannot charge murder on Abigail! She’ll kill me for sayin’ that! ….I cannot do it, I cannot!” (76). Also, since the conspiracy, Mary, merely a maidservant, has acquired extreme respect and authority. Mary’s power is apparent when she argues with her master, John Proctor. “I’ll not stand whipping anymore!…I’ll not be ordered to bed no more, Mr. Proctor! I am eighteen and a woman, however single!” (57).
After arduous consideration, Mary decides to confess to the fallacious witch trials. She becomes motivated to speak up when innocent Elizabeth Proctor is suspected of witchcraft. Mary knows that Abigail accused Elizabeth because of hatred and retaliation. Abigail wants to get rid of Elizabeth in order to get to John Proctor. John Proctor, realizing Abigail’s intentions, demands Mary to revolt against the girls. “You’re coming to court with me, Mary. You will tell it in the court” (75). Mary acknowledges the corruption, and with outside influence, she is able to follow her truthful instincts. “I cannot lie no more. I am with God, I am with God” (94).