Explain the power the court holds in The Crucible.

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

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The court is the legal instrument for justice in Salem.  The court holds power over the people of Salem for it is seen as the penultimate authority figure in the town.  It is designed to ensure that there will be no break with its deliberation of justice.  The leaders of the court such as Judges Hathorne and Danforth have guaranteed that individuals do not rise up against it as it is argued to have the market cornered on truth and justice.  The court's power lies in the fact that it has linked both elements together.  This means that whatever the court finds is not merely a finding of the court, but a moral statement, as well.  The theocratic rule of Salem is where the court not only guarantees guilt, but also moral purity.  It is here where the court holds a sense of absolutism in terms of judgment over the people of Salem.  In this, the court is all encompassing.  This means that the power of the court is an unquestioned one, and represents a force that cannot be subverted.  It is in this end and its misreading of justice that enables the people of Salem to recognize how misguided the court is and ends up rejecting the court's findings in the end of the drama.  When Reverend Parris goes out on the highway road, never the return, it is a stunning indictment of the court system and its absolutist tendency.  Miller notes this in the end in his argument that the theocratic order never gained a hold in American law again.

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