Mary Warren was the oldest of the accusers during the 1692 Salem witch trials, in her teens. She was a servant for John and Elizabeth Proctor. Renouncing her claims after being threatened to be hanged, she was later arrested, but did not confess. Her life after the trials is unknown.
Her parents and sister died early in her life, forcing her to become a servant.
Accusations and involvement in the trials
In early March 1692, Warren began to have fits, saying she saw the specter of Giles Corey. John Proctor told her she was just seeing his shadow, and put her to work at the spinning wheel, threatening to beat her if she had any more fits. For some time, she did not report any more sightings, but she started to have fits again in his absence.
Warren was kept hard at work at the Proctor home and told that if she ran into fire or water during one of her fits, she would not be rescued. When her seizures did stop, she posted a note at the Meeting House one Sabbath eve to request prayers of thanks. That night, Mary said that Elizabeth’s spirit woke her to torment her about posting of the note. On April 3, 1692, Samuel Parris read Mary’s note to the church members, who began to question Mary after the Sunday services. Some took her answers to their questions to mean that the girls had lied. Mary told them she felt better now and could tell the difference between reality and visions. The other girls became angry with Mary and began to accuse her of being a witch. Mary Warren was accused of being a witch because she told the high court that all the girls were lying that they saw the devil.
Warren is a character in the play The Crucible by Arthur Miller. True to the historical record, 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. 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 soul.