What qualities of a good judge are lacking in Hathorne & Danforth? If Elizabeth told Danforth the truth how would that change the outcome?How would the outcome of the witchcraft hysteria be...

What qualities of a good judge are lacking in Hathorne & Danforth? If Elizabeth told Danforth the truth how would that change the outcome?

How would the outcome of the witchcraft hysteria be different if Elizabeth told Danforth the truth?

Asked on by atropiano

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

The judges at the Witch Trials are not interested in getting at the truth, only serving their purpose, which is to legitimize their authority.  After the court has been seated and condemned so many innocent people, its legitimacy grows, the more people who confess, the more believable the claims of witchcraft in Salem becomes. 

However, the people in a neighboring town have had enough with their own witch trials and rebelled against the court.  So the judges are very protective of their own safety.  They want to keep the process moving, so they don't question Elizabeth Proctor properly with any attempt to get at the truth.

In her statement, Elizabeth hints at the truth, that John had an affair with Abigail Williams, but she falls short of admitting it to the court.  If she had told the court the truth, Abigail would have been identified as a liar and a harlot, a woman who had a sexual relationship outside of marriage.

The judges would have been in a predicament because, based on Abigail's testimony, they have already hung twelve innocent people.  The outcome, I think, would have been that John Proctor would not have been forced to sign a confession, but would have been released, along with his wife. 

Abigail Williams would have been jailed for lying to the court, a crime that would cause her to hang.  

lizbv's profile pic

lizbv | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

Posted on

First, the quality of a good judge lacking in Hathorne and Danforth is their refusal to remain objective during the trials.  They automatically side with the accuser and are unwilling to listen completely to the defense.  They are even less willing to accept any sort of evidence that may assist the defendants. 

An additional quality lacking in both Hathorne and Danforth is their ability to separate the law from their faith. However, this is not truly something they can be held accountable for because they are Puritans, and the Puritan society was founded on a theocratic form of government, meaning that their laws are determined by their 'church' and thus they do not know any separation of church and state as does our country today.  Therefore, though it is a missing quality, it is only missing in consideratin of what a "good judge" would be today.

If Elizabeth had told Danforth the truth about Abigail and John's affair, there is no real way of knowing that the trials would have been over. Though it seems likely that Danforth would have then seen Abigail as the liar that she is, it is also possible that Abigail would have gained backtheir trust by turning on Elizabeth at that moment and saying that she, being a witch, was lying.  It is more likely that they would have believed Abigial over John or Elizabeth, especially since Abigail had just begun to accuse Mary Warren and Danforth was believing her.

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