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In The Crucible, why was the justice system in Salem handled in such a way so that...

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user1877773 | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 5, 2013 at 8:40 PM via web

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In The Crucible, why was the justice system in Salem handled in such a way so that those who confessed to witchcraft weren't hanged even though the Bible "describe(s) death as the penalty thereof" according to Danforth?

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted April 7, 2013 at 3:40 PM (Answer #1)

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I think that some part of the question answers itself.  In The Crucible, The point of the legal proceedings in Salem is shown to be one where the purpose of the Salem criminal justice system was not justice, at all.  Miller makes it clear that the manner in which justice was supposedly pursued was out of power and political gain.  There was nothing in way of "truth" that was explored.  The court that Hathorne and Danforth run is geared towards the substantiation of its own power and little else.  Confession in front of the court was used to justify its own purpose and its own power.  Little else mattered.  

Miller shows the court proceedings to be one in which truth and legal measurement of guilt were bypassed for political gain and ensuring that the outcome supported those in the position of power.  It is for this reason that those who confessed were used to generate more accusations, to further substantiate the power of the court.  Miller wishes to make Danforth's words ring hollow because his presence in the courtroom is a hollow one.  When Proctor objects to the court and when Corey questions it, the reminder to the audience is evident that Salem in the grips of the witch hunt, did not seek to find justice or the truth.  It sought to consolidate the control of those in the position of power.  Justice was deferred in this pursuit.

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