In The Crucible, why is Reverend Hale questioning Danforth and the court? Summarize his points.

In The Crucible, Reverend Hale is questioning Danforth and the court because he's no longer convinced that they're concerned with dispensing justice. He's come to realize that the Salem witch trials are based on rickety foundations and are sending innocent people to their deaths.

Expert Answers

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As an expert on witchcraft, Reverend Hale was initially enthusiastic about the Salem witch trials. Having absolute faith in the integrity of the criminal justice system, Hale had no doubt whatsoever that the trials were a noble enterprise that would punish the guilty and protect this small Massachusetts town from evil.

Over time, however, Hale's attitude toward the witch trials changes considerably. He's seen at first hand the flimsy evidence used to send people to the gallows as witches. He's also witnessed the less than fair behavior of Deputy Governor Danforth, who instead of ensuring that justice is done in his court, is concerned with having as many of the accused hanged as possible, irrespective of how weak the legal case against them might be.

Hale openly challenges Danforth by telling him that there's a great fear of the court in Salem. But Danforth is unmoved; he construes such fear as the result of a diabolical plot in the town against Christianity. He also challenges Danforth on procedural grounds by arguing that Giles Corey should be allowed to submit oral evidence of his wife's innocence in court. But Danforth angrily reminds Hale that, according to the proper procedure, all evidence must be submitted by way of an affidavit.

Unlike Danforth, Hale genuinely wants to get to the bottom of the matter, which is why he thinks it's so important that evidence challenging the credibility of accusations of witchcraft should be heard in open court. To that end, he pleads with Danforth to listen to evidence that the girls making these accusations are not telling the truth.

Though Danforth agrees to hear the evidence, he acts unjustly in demanding that the landowners who signed a petition in support of Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and Elizabeth Proctor be questioned.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 16, 2021
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