Why does Danforth refuse to consider a postponement in The Crucible?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Danforth in Act IV is a character who can only be described as implacable. He refuses to postpone the hanging of Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey, even though there is clear proof that Abigail was not genuine and that the witchtrials in nearby Andover have ended in riots as the court was overthrown. Yet Danforth continues on his path, no matter what others think or say. Note how he justifies his actions:

Postponement now speaks a floundering of my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of these that died till now. While I speak God's law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering.

Danforth is obsessed with the idea that he is appointed to be God's judge in this place, and therefore to admit that he was wrong or to deviate from his course would reflect badly on God. There is no question of the truth or what is right to do. To Danforth's mind, now that judgement has been pronounced against these characters, they must die, regardless of whether they are guilty or innocent.


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