What are some ways Danforth shows pride in the short story The Crucible?

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Lori Steinbach | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In The Crucible, Judge Danforth exhibits excessive pride and arrogance through his actions, his words, and his attitude.  Three specific moments, all in Act III, are indicative of those attributes.

One is when Danforth plays rather fast and loose with the law.  We know the girls have eaten with some regularity with the judges; and, while perhaps the court did not have the official status of the court system today, the court was powerful enough to execute the guilty and should not have been so comfortable with the accusers.  When Giles Corey comes to court, Danforth can't seem to make up his mind whether official courtroom procedures should be followed or not.  When it suits him, they do; when he'd prefer to ignore them, they don't. He says, "The pure in heart need no lawyers."  Obviously, in this courtroom that's not true.   Clearly Danforth sees himself both as being the law and being above the law.

Another way Danforth demonstrates his pride is in his dealings with Proctor.  Despite the fact that Proctor virtually signs his own death warrant by admitting to adultery, and despite the fact that Abigail actually leveled a not-so-veiled threat to cry witchcraft on Danforth himself, Danforth is unwilling to recognize the fact that Elizabeth may have lied in an attempt to save her husband from the gallows.  This is a moment of true revelation for Reverend Hale, who quits the proceedings for good; but for Danforth there is no bending.

The final incident of Danforth's pride and arrogance occursin the final scene at the jail.  Rev. Hale has reappeared to try to save innocent lives, and even Parris has come to plead for some grace on their behalf.  Hale appeals to Danforth reasonably, asking him to simply delay the executions.  Danforth's tirade makes it clear he will not bend, for he is God's voice on earth.  In fact, earlier in this act, Danforth has the audacity to speak as one gifted with God's authority:

John Proctor, I've seen your power. You are combined with ANTI-CHRIST!

Danforth never bends and never admits he is wrong or even could be wrong.  Never.

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