Throughout The Crucible who asked the best questions during the trials?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

While Rev. Hale asks excellent questions during his investigations throughout the play, the best questioning during the actual trials comes from Judge Danforth (strangely enough).  This is purely a subjective answer, but readers could definitely argue that Judge Danforth's questions are probing and have the potential to elicit the truth.  Unfortunately, by the time the play's action enters Act 3, the Judge and many of the townspeople do not seem very interested in the truth.  Another hindrance to Danforth's questions turning around the trials, are the answers given by some of the characters.  For example, Elizabeth Proctor has the opportunity to reverse everything that has happened in the play up to Act 3 and reveal Abigail's true intentions, but she chooses to lie in response to Danforth's probing question.  While, of course, her answer is nobly to protect her husband, Danforth knew to ask the question.

 

jeff-hauge eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I find it most interesting that the legitimacy of the danger of witchcraft is not a fundamental issue. The questioning by the judges ranges from incisive to circular logic. ("I am innocent to a witch, I know not what a witch is." "If you don;t know what a witch is, how do you know you are NOT one?")

If Miller discredits witchcraft as a non existent threat, then the play would have been perceived as a defense of communism as harmless. He avoids this. The more important theme is two fold. On one hand the threat is real to them, and therefore a threat. But the greater, more universal theme is that the children were acting differently in a community that identified itself as a perfect society. Generations were passing and this identity was weakening. Ergo, anything different must be bad.