At this point the audience will be feeling hopeful because all the way through the play Proctor has claimed that his wife cannot lie and so she can tell the court that Abigail is a whore. On the other hand the audience will feel suspension building as nothing in this play is straight forward and the audience may be expecting a twist, also they will be wondering what will happen to John if his wife admits that he is a lecher. So the tension in the audience will once again be rising as they wait for Elizabeth Proctor to arrive.
Danforth is taking Proctor very seriously as even he sees that no man is prepared to throw away his good name and reputation in the most humiliating of manners if there was no truth in it. He is therefore also very nervous as this could mean that Proctor is right about there being no witches and he will have hanged innocent people, making him a poor judge at least but also an unintentional murderer. John will feel that he has lost all his own dignity and pride, so he will not care what happens to him but only that he can free his wife and see Abigail punished for what she has done and ultimately spoiling her plans to kill his wife.
When Elizabeth enters the room the tension will immediately rise and the audience will be on tenterhooks as to what happens next. Elizabeth will be very nervous as when she enters the room she can see both Abigail and Proctor with their backs to her. She is told not to look at either Proctor or Abigail however she keeps looking at John and Danforth keeps having to remind her that she doesn’t need to look at her husband to deliver the answers to the questions Danforth is asking. Elizabeth senses that it is a grave situation but she does not know that John has already confessed to his sin and so she has to try and get a feel for who has said what.
She avoids direct answers such as why Abigail had been dismissed by simply saying that she had been a dissatisfying worker, this shows that she was stalling for time and trying to get a feel for what how much the court knows about the affair. She tells the court that she thought that John had turned from her to Abigail when she had been ill but that it may have been from her illness that she had thought this. Elizabeth doesn’t seem able to grasp who has said what and so she doesn’t know what to say when the final question comes. She stalls for time and Danforth holds her head so she cannot look at Proctor or Abigail for an answer.
At this point the audience will be at the climax of tension will she or won’t she lie, Proctor claims she cannot lie but does she love him enough to try and get him off the charge for lechery? With all the stalling and impatientness of Danforth the tension will be at a maximum. When Elizabeth delivers the final word that no her husband is not a lecher, the audience’s hopes will be smashed as Abigail has won yet again. As soon as this has been said everything speeds up again and in the space of a few seconds Danforth shouts for Elizabeth to be removed, Proctor tells Elizabeth that he had confessed and we see her reaction just as she is taken from the courtroom.
The audience will still be trying to work out what Elizabeth’s lie means and after Elizabeth has been taken away they get a quick chance to think about it. Now that Elizabeth has lied it means that because John had sworn that his wife couldn’t lie it worked against him as Danforth took it for the truth so Abigail will once again be thought of as the innocent little girl by Danforth and Proctor although will not be charged with being a lecher will now have to start from square one to bring Abigail down and get Elizabeth and all the convicted witches out of jail. The audience will now be almost despairing as everything seems to be going Abigail’s way and Proctor doesn’t look like he has any more chances to help Elizabeth.
Hale now comes in and challenges Danforth over his decision trying to talk what seems like common sense into Danforth he points out that it is only natural to tell a lie to try and get her husband off the charge of lechery. He shows his faith in Proctor by claiming that since he had first met him he had struck him as a truthful man. Danforth’s defence is that Elizabeth had spoken nothing of lechery so it could not the charge was therefore not true. Mr Hale refuses to believe that Proctor was lying about the charge of lechery as he realises that no one will give up his name and dignity in such a way for anything that could be gained by doing so.
He can also see through Abigail whereas Danforth is totally taken in by her and seems to hang of her every word as the truth. The words that Hale speaks drip with common sense and intelligence that Danforth simply does not posses. He clearly sees what is happening and reveals everything to Danforth in a sentence ‘I may shut my conscience to it no more – private vengeance is working through this testimony.’ had Danforth the sense to think about it then maybe he would have seen it too. However Hale has little effect on the court and decisions of Danforth and Danforth takes very little notice of him. This makes Proctor’s small team of people trying to bring Abigail down and free the people of Salem very weak as Hale is the only one with inside knowledge and power in the courts, and as his power on Danforth is minimal the outlook seems bleak for Proctor.
Abigail must sense that she is yet again about to be questioned on her intentions and so with perfect timing suddenly starts shouting at a yellow bird up on the ceiling. Danforth immediately believes her but is also tense and anxious, maybe more so since Abigail’s threat that the devil can take over anyone. Abigail talks to the invisible bird and seems to hold a conversation with it. Abigail is telling it that God made her face, that the yellow bird cannot tear it and envy is a deadly sin. She ends the sentence with Mary’s name so everyone thinks that Mary has sent her spirit out to hurt Abigail and the other girls.
Mary at once leaps to her feet and calls Abigail’s name as if to draw her attention to the fact that Mary is doing nothing to her. Abigail ignores her and continues talking to the yellow bird. Proctor is asking Hale if he sees anything and telling Danforth that the girls are lying this has a slightly calming effect as the girls grow more hysterical, it is good that there was still a steady few sentences from Proctor keeping everything in perspective a little better for the audience, but Danforth paid no attention. The audience will be feeling the tension mount again but this time it is very difficult to see where the story may be going so all they can do is sit and wait for what happens next.
The other girls start to take part as well with Susanna Walcott claiming “Her claws, she’s stretching her claws!” Danforth rounds on Mary and asks her why the girls see the vision. Mary replies “She sees nothin’!” to this Abigail mimics Mary’s word exactly. At this point it is really shown that Abigail is the leader of the girls as the next time Mary speaks all the girls mimic what she says as Abigail had done first time. Danforth commands Mary to return her spirit but when Mary tries to reply she is cut off by the girls mimicking. Danforth becomes very pressing and quite hysterical himself and Mary is becoming extremely distressed and frightened.
One again through this build up of hysteria Proctor speaks common sense to the court telling them that a whip would sort them out, which it probably would have made some more of the girls crack and tell the court that Abigail had been lying all along. No one however pays any attention to Proctor as they are wrapped up in their own hysteria. Mary seems shows her absolute despair and frustration as she screams for Abigail to stop it but it is only to be mimicked by the girls adding to her frustration. Danforth continues to question Mary making her reply and therefore the girls copy Mary and make the situation worse.
Mary denies she has any power over the girls and Proctor continues with his to tell Danforth the girls are lying and Hale joins in. Mary seems to be weakening to Abigail and Proctor sees this and reminds her that God damns all liars, Danforth is pressing her Abigail is still shouting at the bird and repeating Mary. It is too much for Mary to cope with and she is weakening, Abigail senses this also and so she piles the pressure on Mary.
Abigail screams “Look out! She’s coming down!” All the girls scream and run out of the courtroom except for Mary who is held by Danforth. Mary has totally broken from Abigail’s last effort and has become entirely hysterical; she stares up at the invisible yellow bird screaming. Proctor advances to Mary about to talk to her but she rushes out of his reach and screams “Don’t touch me – don’t touch me!” Here all the girls stop running out of the door and Proctor stops astonished.
Here the audience will feel the peak of pressure and tension. Mary has now broken and is hysterical so what sort of things might she say? Everyone in the play is on tenterhooks, even Abigail, as what Mary says next will decide what happens next. Mary points to Proctor and cries “You’re the devil’s man!” Everyone is stunned. Proctor cannot speak but Danforth recovers himself and asks what Proctor has done to her. Mary still hysterical tells the court that he had come to her every day and night to sign a black book and to help him overthrow the court, she claims he came to her at night with his eyes like glowing coals and clawing at her neck telling her to sign a black book and so she did.
Mary then runs to Abigail telling her that she will never hurt her any more and Abigail welcomes her with open arms as once again she has won over Proctor. Here Danforth turns on Proctor. He asks him if he is combined with the anti-Christ. Hale tries a last desperate effort to convince Danforth but he gets a sharp cutback to shut up from Danforth showing how little weight Hale really carries in the court. Proctor however seems to have turned wild with the accusation, and he cries that God is dead. This does not help his case and he laughs insanely crying that a fire burns in Hell, he can hear the boots of Lucifer and see his face.
Here he is merely referring to the fact that he feels he will go to Hell anyway because of his affair with Abigail but he says that he sees Danforth with him. This is his way of saying that he thinks Danforth is a murderer for sending people to be hanged as witches. Danforth does not realise though and tells the marshal to take Corey and Proctor to the jail. Proctor has a last word still sticking with his story “You are pulling down heaven and raising up a whore!” Hale loses his temper also and denounces the proceedings and quits the court, he exits the door and slams it. Here Act three ends.
The audience should really like this play as it has an amazing roller coaster of emotions and tension in it and there aren’t any dull or boring parts where not much happens. The play shows how human nature can favour some people such as Abigail to survive by giving her the things she needs such as looks, wit and boldness. However the play shows what happens when these gifts are given to the wrong people and they use them to make bad things happen like scaring the girls into supporting her, manipulating the court to believe her story and consequently having innocent people hanged, all so she could have Proctor’s wife hanged and have Proctor all to herself.