But You Must Understand Sir That A Person Is Either With This Court

Please help me analyze this quote from Arthur Miller's play The Crucibe

"..But you must understand sir that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it. There will be no road between."

I need page number and who said it.

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This line is uttered by Deputy Governor Danforth in Act Three.  In my edition, the Penguin, it is on page 94, just after Francis Nurse has submitted a testament signed by dozens of people that attest to his wife's and Martha Corey's good reputations as Christians.  Danforth has ordered that all signers be arrested and brought in for questioning, and Nurse fears that he has brought trouble to their doors in asking them for help.  Danforth says, 

No, old man, you have not hurt these people if they are of good conscience.  But you must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.  This is a sharp time, now, a precise time -- we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world.  Now, by God's grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.

In his Puritanical logic, he assumes that anyone who is innocent has nothing to fear from the court: if an individual is guilty of nothing, then the court will not, cannot, harm them.  Danforth believes that he and the court are doing God's work, as it is "the entire contention of the state [...] that the voice of Heaven is speaking through the children."  Therefore, if you are against the court, then you must be guilty because the court is good.  If you are guilty, then you are bad and not on the side of God, and it is the court's moral duty to find you out and punish you.  It is a very black and white perspective, not allowing for corruption among the magistrates or ulterior motives on the part of the accusing girls or their families.

M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote from Act 3 Sc. 1 from Arthur Miller's The Crucible" is said by Deputy Governor Danforth, and it basically epitomizes the type of justice that is conducted in Salem: radical and senseless. All in Salem is either good or bad, without a middle point. Therefore, what is not good is necessarily going to be seen as evil.

a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between.
The authority that Danforth claims is the sanctioning by God of the colony of Massachussets. If God has granted the permission to exert justice against those against God, then there is no stopping to the process. It must be done.
Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.

In Dansforth's mind, God is conducting the witch trial using the aldermen as His mouthpiece. Anyone who is against what the court decides, is against God himself. Hence, the illogical reasoning of the villagers concludes that whoever is against God is by default consulting with the Devil. It is as radical as that, and there is no "road between" as he stated.

ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This quote is from Act 3 and Scene 1 of "The Crucible."  In my edition it is on page 87.   The quote is made by Deputy Governor Danforth  and the complete quotation follows.

"A person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time — we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world."

There is a great deal more information on this play at the following links.  Thanks for your question.

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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