The accusations fly in Arthur Miller's "The Crucible." The play's dramatic retelling of the Salem Witch Trials where the truth gets obscured by sensational charges of possession by demons echoes the crusade of Senator Joseph McCarthy to root out communists, which was occurring while the play was being written.
(law) a pretrial interrogation of a witness; usually conducted in a lawyer's office
"Deposition" also means "the act of removing a powerful person from office"--while this definition is not intended in Proctor's words, it is suggested in Parris's accusation: "They’ve come to overthrow the court, sir!" The deposition contains Mary Warren's statement that she had never seen any spirits, and if believed, it would depose the leading accuser (Abigail) and the judges (Hathorne and Danforth) who were brought in from Boston especially for the trials.
Proctor, reaching into his jacket: She has signed a
Despite the statement of being "ready to hear" and especially since he interrupts Proctor in the middle of a sentence, the briskness Danforth suddenly displays here is closer to brusqueness ("an abrupt discourteous manner") than to lively eagerness.
Danforth, with a sudden
briskness of manner: I judge you not, sir. I am ready to hear your evidence.
be confusing or perplexing to; cause to be unable to think clearly
As a judge, Danforth should not be befuddled, but his complete lack of befuddlement at what's good and what's evil actually makes him a bad judge, because most people and situations are not as precise and sharp as he'd like to see them as.
Compare with "confounded" in this list--a confounded witness such as Mary should befuddle the proceedings, but Danforth threatens her into his vision of Proctor compacting with the Devil.
This is a sharp time, now, a precise time--we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and
befuddled the world.
a secret agreement between two or more people to perform an unlawful act
Here, "conspiracy" is synonymous with "compact" (see list for Act 2), with the exception that Parris is referring to secret agreements between two humans as well as those between the Devil and a human. Linked to conspiracy, "confidence" becomes a negative word; in its definition of "a secret that is entrusted to another" the focus is on the secrecy rather than the trust.
Without confidences there could be no
conspiracy, Your Honor!
complete and confirmed integrity; having strong moral principles
The pun on "probity" can be seen in its Latin roots: "probare" means "to test" and "probus" means "good"--although Danforth is asking whether Hale doubts his integrity, as a judge who's in charge of interrogation, he's also asking whether Hale doubts his ability to do his job.
The chosen definition gives the adjective an ironic tone, especially since it contrasts with the adverb "placidly" ("in a quiet and tranquil manner"). Since the official is also described as dutiful, the use of "sublime" as an adjective might be closer to the definition of the word as a noun: "an ultimate example."
Cheever waits placidly, the
sublime official, dutiful.
"Manifest" is short for "manifestation" which means "an indication of the existence of some person or thing" or "an appearance in bodily form"--both definitions make the word nearly synonymous with "apparition" and "spirit" and all three words could be connected to the Devil.
Your friend, Mary Warren, has given us a deposition. In which she swears that she never saw familiar spirits,
apparitions, nor any manifest of the Devil.
having or showing a feeling of mixed reverence and respect and wonder and dread
But Abigail, pointing with fear, is now raising up her frightened eyes, her
awed face, toward the ceiling--the girls are doing the same--and now Hathorne, Hale, Putnam, Cheever, Herrick, and Danforth do the same.
The Latin "turbare" means "to throw into disorder"--as the source of the disorder, Abigail is not perturbed by the disturbances in the court. Unperturbed in the face of Mary's pleading, Abigail puts on a show that is meant to convince her observers she sees a harmful spirit, but actually emphasizes to the audience how coldly she can turn on someone who goes against her.
unperturbed, continuing to the “bird”: Oh, Mary, this is a black art to change your shape.
perplexed by many conflicting situations or statements; filled with bewilderment
Mary Warren, utterly
confounded, and becoming overwhelmed by Abigail’s--and the girls’ utter conviction, starts to whimper, hands half raised, powerless, and all the girls begin whimpering exactly as she does.
Compare with "flinch" in the list for Act 2--earlier when Hale was pleading with Francis not to flinch, he still had faith in the justice of the court. But here, as Proctor laughs insanely and accuses everyone, including himself, of quailing and failing to call the court out for encouraging fraud, Hale does not flinch at the outburst, because he agrees.
For them that
quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have
quailed, and as you
quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud--God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!