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In The Crucible, Danforth gives the premise for judging a witch. Summarize his...

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cody456 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 23, 2012 at 5:01 PM via web

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In The Crucible, Danforth gives the premise for judging a witch. Summarize his guidelines.

I am working on a study guide for my summer reading and I have been stuck on this question for a while. I would really appreciate the help. Thank you.

 

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amarang9 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted August 23, 2012 at 5:35 PM (Answer #1)

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In Act III of The Crucible, Danforth tells Proctor that the state believes Heaven is speaking through the girls. Also in this Act, Danforth claims that no lawyers will be necessary. Danforth believes that in most court proceedings, witnesses will be called to defend the accused. However, when it comes to witchcraft, Danforth is illogical. He claims the only two people who can adequately testify in the matter are the witch and the victim because it is an "invisible crime." He says: 

Now, we cannot hope the witch will accuse herself; granted? Therefore, we must rely upon her victims--and they do testify, the children certainly do testify. As for the witches, none will deny that we are most eager for all their confessions. (Act III)

Other than asserting his authority to change his mind (or listen to reason) Danforth has made it impossible to defend the accused witches. In fact, he only expects denial or confession from those accused of witchcraft; he does not mention the possibility that they may be innocent.

The only hope for the accused is for the accusers to admit their pretense (that they'd lied). Mary Warren attempts to do so but  there is a miscommunication between Elizabeth and John, leading Danforth to reaffirm his belief in Abigail's accusations. Needless to say, Danforth is determined to prosecute because to retract accusations at this point will be detrimental to the reputation of the court (and himself). 

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