In The Crucible, why won't Danforth pardon the prisoners?
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Danforth has two main reasons as to why he won't pardon any prisoners. The first reason is that, at this point in Act Four, some of the accused have been hanged. He tells Parris and Hale that to pardon people at this point would not be fair to those who have been hanged.
You misunderstand, sir; I cannot pardon these when twelve are already hanged for the same crime. It is not just.
Danforth also thinks that to change his mind at this point will challenge his credibility and the reputation of the court. Even as Parris warns him that this witch hunt might incite a rebellion, Danforth sticks to his word and will not reconsider his judgment. Danforth is concerned primarily with his and the court's reputation. He justifies sticking to his judgment by conflating his judgment with God's law. He has convinced himself that he (like God) can not be wrong:
While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this - I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statues.
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