In The Crucible, why are Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris so reluctant to believe that Abigail and the other girls are lying?

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All of these men have a vested interest in the continuation of the witch trials. Judge Danforth, for example, takes himself as an authority figure very seriously. The witch trials give him an opportunity to wield that authority over others. He's on the biggest power trip of his life and...

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All of these men have a vested interest in the continuation of the witch trials. Judge Danforth, for example, takes himself as an authority figure very seriously. The witch trials give him an opportunity to wield that authority over others. He's on the biggest power trip of his life and doesn't want it to end any time soon. A moment's reflection would tell him that the whole witch craze is based on nothing more than lies and fabrications, but he really doesn't care. All that matters to him is that he gets to hold the power of life and death in his hands. Despite proclaiming to be a devout Christian, he's actually playing God.

Much the same thing can be said of Reverend Parris. He's also an authority figure in Salem, kind of a big deal in town. But as with Danforth he abuses that authority for his own ends. The witch craze presents him with an opportunity to bolster his prestige in the eyes of the townsfolk. At the same time, he needs to cover up what his niece and the other girls were getting up to in the forest that night. The witch craze is a classic diversion tactic that will take the focus off Abigail and put it onto innocent people such as Elizabeth Proctor.

Hathorne, unlike Danforth, lacks experience as a judge. He's still making his way in the world, still in the foothills of a judicial career. He sees the witch trials as a golden opportunity to make a name for himself. Fiercely ambitious, he's prepared to resort to unscrupulous methods to get the verdict he wants. Innocent people are just stepping stones for Hathorne on his way to the top. If he can establish a reputation at the Salem witch trials, he figures that that will launch him on a long and successful career as a judge.

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Danforth is interested in maintaining the authority of the court. To admit that innocent people have been sentenced and killed as the result of fraud would greatly undermine the authority of the court in the public's esteem. 

As the court is generally reliant upon public opinion as the basis for its authority, Danforth energetically defends the court's position that it has not done anything falsely and that the evidence used in the court has all been valid. 

Parris wants to continue to side with the court and associate himself with this body of power. He fears that, as something of an outsider, his position in Salem is insecure. By aligning himself with the power of the court, he bolsters his own position as a minor authority in the town. For him, undoing the work of the court and recognizing the trials as fraudulent will reverse the progress he has made regarding the stability of his position. His position would become even more unstable than it was at the opening of the play. 

Hathorne's reasons for disbelieving the claims made by Proctor and Mary Warren are more legally oriented. He simply does not believe Mary Warren. She either is lying in her confession in Act III, or she was lying in court earlier. Both ways she is untrustworthy and, for Hathorne, unconvincing.

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