Why does Danforth refuse to postpne the hangings  

1 Answer | Add Yours

noahvox2's profile pic

noahvox2 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

In Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Danforth is an elderly man who serves as the judge in the witchcraft trials. Danforth is extremely rigid and once he has made up his mind, there will be no changing it. For example, when Corey tries to defend his wife, Danforth roars,

"Then you take it upon yourself to decide what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside?"

When Corey tells Danforth that he did not mean any disrespect, Danforth again declares indignantly:

Disrespect, indeed!-It is disruption, Mister. This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it?

Danforth seems almost proud of the fact that just by signing his name, he is responsible for 400 people being in jail and another 72 being condemned to die.

Thus, when Parris suggests that the hangings be postponed because of recent developments that have cast doubt on the proceedings in their town, Danforth twice declares that there will be no postponement.

On the most basic level, Danforth refuses to allow the postponement because he is a rigid person and is convinced that his decision is the correct one. Second, he himself says that to allow postponement would speak "a floundering...on my part". In addition to Danforth's unwillingness to appear indecisive, he also says that a "reprieve or pardon [would] cast doubt upon the guilt of" those who had already been put to death.


We’ve answered 317,600 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question