In The Crucible, Danforth repeatedly says that the good have nothing to fear. How is this ironic?

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

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In "The Second Coming," Yeats writes, "the good lack all conviction, while the worst are filled with passionate intensity."  Danforth's words are sadly ironic because the good have everything to fear.   They are the ones who are being targeted by those in the position of power in Salem.  The hysteria over the witch trials has fostered a fear where anyone who is "different" or deemed as not an insider has everything to fear.  It is for this reason that people like Rebecca Nurse, Giles Corey, and even Proctor have everything to fear.  The legal system in Salem, presided over by men like Danforth and Hathorne, have established a set of proceedings where anyone can be called and if they do not name names, they themselves become one of the accused.  The only path of escape is to give names, even if that means to lie, because the machinery has lost sight of individual expectation of privacy and due process.  This is the reason why the good have everything to fear in Salem.  They are endangered because "the worst" of people are running the system.  Men like Parris see the trials as a way to consolidate control and tighten their political hold over Salem.  Hathorne and Danforth see the trial as a way to increase their own reputations.  Abigail sees the trials as a way to eliminate her enemies and those who stand in front of what she covets.  Putnam sees the trial as a chance to gain more land, while Mrs. Putnam sees it as a way to avenge the pain she feels for having lost so many children.  In this condition, the good have everything to fear.  In repeatedly stating that they have nothing to fear, the irony of substantive due process violations reveals itself.

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