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In The Crucible, is Danforth evil?

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suhail95 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM via web

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In The Crucible, is Danforth evil?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

Posted July 10, 2013 at 9:49 AM (Answer #1)

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Danforth is a strict figure of authority who is keen to mete out punishment to those whom he thinks deserve it, but he is not really evil. He is actually quite conscientious, resolved to do his job to the best of his ability. He appears more courteous than the likes of Judge Hathorne and to begin with at least, he does his best to give Proctor and his friends a fair hearing.

Danforth is not evil, but he is seriously deluded, like so many others in Salem, and this clouds his judgement and decision-making. For all his attempts at fair play, he displays an inflexible attitude. He is not able or willing to see the true nature of what is happening in Salem, that people are using the witchcraft hysteria as a means to pursue old feuds and grievances. Instead he sticks rigorously to his belief that the malign supernatural powers are real and the accusers - especially if they are able to demonstrate the supposed signs of supernatural affliction as Abigail is - are wholly in the right.

Proctor is at first respectful of Danforth, but he ends up lashing out at him in fury and frustration, slamming him for being one of those 'that quail to bring men out of ignorance' (Act III).  Proctor accuses Danforth for helping to perpetuate the witchcraft hysteria instead of trying to quell it.

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