Judge Hathorne is still establishing himself as a judge, and he is certainly not as collected or self-assured as Deputy Governor Danforth. At the beginning of Act Three, Hathorne and Giles Corey have an altercation, and Corey points out that "You're not a Boston judge yet, Hathorne." In contrast, Giles refers to Danforth as "Your Excellency." Danforth commands respect but it seems as though Hathorne really has not earned respect as yet. We can begin to see why when he questions Martha Corey at the beginning of this act. He asks her if she denies the charge that she is a witch. She says, "I am innocent to a witch. I know not what a witch is." Clearly, this woman would know what a witch is purported to be as the Bible addresses it, and the Bible is this community's core text. Therefore, she obviously doesn't mean that she has no understanding or idea what a witch is; she means that she is unfamiliar with what a witch would supposedly look or be like up close because she isn't one and because she's never known one. Hathorne purposely misinterprets her words, essentially saying, Well, if you don't know what a witch is, "How do you know, then, that you are not [one]?" It's an unethical trick, twisting this woman's words in order to make her appear ignorant and stupid. It's doubly shocking to see a magistrate, someone who is sworn to uphold the truth, purposely misconstrue it in order to make himself seem clever and an innocent woman seem guilty.
Therefore, I would compare Hathorne to a defensive and desperate son who feels that he cannot get out of his father's shadow. He wants so badly to make a name for himself, but because he is willing to do unscrupulous things to do so, he is not respected by anyone whose respect is worth having. It's as though everyone knows that he's just out to gain power and authority, but he feels like an upstart who knows little and cares less.
Judge Hathorne is a character of little activity in this play, but he certainly influences great consequence to some of the characters. Hathorne can be characterized as arrogant. He seems to let Danforth ask Mary Warren plenty of questions in Act 3, but when he thinks Danforth has exhausted all possibilities of getting a confession out of Mary, he victoriously and sarcastically condemns her for saying one thing now after having done something different previously.
Hathorne is suspicious of all characters that come to court presenting something other than what the girls have presented. In fact, at any time that Danforth seems about to consider the other side of the story, Hathorne interjects a question that calls Danforth back to Hathorne's side of the argument. Not for a moment does he allow the thought that these people are innocent and that the girls are pretending enter his mind.
A good symbol or metaphor for him might be a predatory animal. Perhaps he is like a cheetah or a wolf waiting to pounce on a less powerful animal. His persistence to make certain his will is absolutely comparable to an animal of that nature.