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The story was based on the manipulation and abuse of the law and the legal system in Salem. There were several supporting instances that pointed to a deliberate attempt to abuse the law by the residents and the legal officers concerned.
Abigail falsely accused Elizabeth of being a witch so she could get together with her husband. Although she lacked compelling evidence to support her claims, she managed to get her jailed.
Long standing issues among the people in Salem played out in the court through the witch hunt. Giles Corey, Francis Nurse and John Proctor all had their wives jailed on false accusations. The gentlemen organized for a petition on the issue and collected signatures testifying to the good nature of their wives. However, in trying to save face and the court’s authority, Deputy Governor Danforth confiscated the testimony and marked all who participated for arrest in sheer disregard of the law.
Danforth was unable to free the innocent because the damage had already been done and because they learned too late that the entire case was built on falsehoods. Thus the Deputy Governor who was also the lead judge abused the law to endear himself to the people by proceeding to condemn the innocent.
Danforth: Now hear me, and beguile yourselves no more. I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now. While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering. If retaliation is your fear, know this—I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolution of the statutes. Now draw yourselves up like men and help me, as you are bound by Heaven to do.
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