In The Crucible, why does Danforth hesitate to accept Mary Warren's statement that her prior testimony was pretense?

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Susan Woodward | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Mary Warren is trying to confess that she and the others were only pretending to see spirits.  If Danforth believes her, it makes the entire case bogus and all those who have been accused innocent of all charges.  Since some have been condemned to death already, throwing the case out would make the courts look bad for having been played by a bunch of hysterical girls.  Danforth would lose his credibility among the people, so he hestitates to accept Mary's confession that she was only pretending.  Of course, Abigail sees to it that she scares Mary so badly by claiming that Mary Warren is "with the devil" and that a "yellow bird" is hovering in the room giving Abagail bad looks at Mary's command that Mary screams and recants her confession.  Danforth accepts this and continues with the trials.

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james23 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

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i did read the play a few months ago and i just forgot to do the work on it but thanks for the answers

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icetsuki | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

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Simple. In that day and age, everyone is screaming "witch" at one another, convinced that if they drown out all the evil, only good will remain and all the bad things will stop. So if Mary Warren is right, and there are no witches, then their hopes for peace are shattered, and with something that ground-breaking for their already paranoid society, I would hesitate too.

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