Danforth's, Hawthorne's, and Cheever's conversation tells the audience about what changed in Salem between Acts III and IV of The Crucible. What's going on? How has Salem fallen apart?
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Between Act III and Act IV, Danforth, Hathorne, and Cheever hold a serious conversation about the distress in Salem during the witch trials. Things are falling apart in Salem. Danforth is increasingly concerned and becoming more and more insecure. He does not want to admit that he may have been mistaken about believing children over the adults who have hanged and will hang. Danforth has signed nineteen death warrants. Now, he is hoping for a confession from those who are to hang. This is the only way he can save his reputation. More than anything, Danforth is worried about his reputation. He is prideful and only concerned with his own reputation.
Now that Abigail has stolen from her Uncle Parris and run away, there is reason to doubt her story. Danforth no longer has Abigail's testimony to support his signing of the nineteen death warrants. There is something wrong in Salem. Danforth begins to suspect that he may have been wrong in trusting someone like Abigail. Still, he cannot admit that he may have been wrong. To do so would mean that innocent people have already hanged. Danforth cannot change his story now. His reputation is more valuable to him than human lives.
When Hale and Parris ask Danforth to postpone the hangings of Rebecca Nurse and Proctor, Danforth refuses to honor their wishes:
Both Hale and Parris argue for pardon or postponement of the hangings. Danforth refuses to reconsider on the grounds that he will look indecisive and it would be unfair to those who have already hung.
Again, Danforth is worried about looking indecisive.
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