In Act IV of The Crucible, what is the relevance of Danforth not being satisfied with Proctor's confession?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the relevance of Danforth not being satisfied with anything that Proctor does in Act IV is reflective of how Danforth and the leadership of Salem had no care or concern for public welfare in the trials.  Rather, they were driven by politics.  Miller constructs Danforth's character in Act IV to show that he believes his own credibility is on the line.  As long as there is a target for him and his rule to persecute, all is well.  Danforth has no care for the concern of witches.  Rather, he sees it as an opportunity to consolidate his own power and his own control over the town affairs.  It is for this reason that Proctor's confession is not taken on face value.  If Proctor confesses and the town's fear of witches goes away, Danforth loses his issue, his reason for being.  It is for this reason that he refuses to acknowledge what is happening in Andover, for it represents his worst fear and the reality from which he flees.  In this light, Miller shows Danforth as a politician who recognizes the need to rally support around an issue in order to manipulate the public trust for his own benefit.  In doing so, Danforth's characterization represents the theme of politics and how politics underscores so much of reality in the modern setting.


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