Why does Danforth treat Parris with contempt in Act III of The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I am not sure that Danforth treats Parris with contempt in Act III.  He certainly does not surrender control of the hearings to him, and perhaps this is where a starting point is.  Danforth is presented in a manner that shows his own desire to consolidate the trials for his own benefit.  He is not willing to surrender this control to anyone.  This is seen several times over, something even Hale points out.  Danforth does not take kindly to anyone questioning the actions of the court, as Francis Nurse, Giles Corey, and John Proctor find out in their own ways.  Danforth has personalized the court and the proceedings.  This is his and no one will stand in the way of what he needs to do.  At the same time, Danforth does not let anyone else seek to assert control in the court.  When Hale seeks to voice some level of opinion that could be seen as controlling, Danforth sends him out and rebukes him.  Parris tries to get involved when he sees Proctor being moved under the microscope.  While Danforth does not banish him or rebuke him as he did Hale, it is evident that he does not want Parris to control what is going on.  It is here where we see Danforth act in a dismissive way towards Parris.  I am not sure it is contempt, as much as it is a desire to not cede the spotlight to any other person in the carrying out of the trial proceedings.

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