The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

The Crucible book cover
Start Your Free Trial

Explain Judge Danforth’s explanation of witchcraft being an “invisible crime?”

Expert Answers info

Wallace Field eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write7,358 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

Deputy Governor Danforth calls witchcraft an "invisible crime" in Act Three, as he argues with Mr. Hale over whether or not a lawyer should return with Proctor and Corey and present their evidence himself.  Danforth feels that there is no need for a lawyer because of the nature of the accusations and how the court must proceed as a result.  

He says that witchcraft is an "invisible crime" because no one can see it or be aware of it except for the witch herself and her victim.  It is not like stealing something where a person can be caught in the act or, later, with the item that has been taken.  Since they cannot expect the witch to accuse herself, they must rely on the testimony of the "victims."  Because he is eager for the witches' confessions, he feels that he is being impartial.  (However, we can see the way in which he presumes guilt until innocence is proven -- the opposite of the way our legal system is supposed to work today; he calls the girls "victims" and refers to all of the accused as "witches" without any sense of the possibility that one who has been accused is not actually guilty or that one who has accused is not really a victim.)  

check Approved by eNotes Editorial