What is Danforth's conflict with Hale in The Crucible? What is his conflict with society? What is his internal conflict?

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favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Part of Danforth's conflict with Hale is that Hale is making suggestions about how the court should proceed: he believes, for example, that John Proctor and Giles Corey should be allowed to leave and return with a lawyer to help them present their evidence.  However, Danforth explains why a lawyer seems totally unnecessary to him: the only people who can be aware of witchcraft are the witch and her victim, and since the witch will never accuse herself, the only person who the court needs to hear from is the victim -- what could a lawyer contribute in such a case? he asks.

Also, Hale defends Elizabeth and John Proctor when Danforth tests them in order to try to get to the truth about why Elizabeth dismissed Abigail from their service.  Elizabeth tells a "natural lie," according to Hale, as she attempts to protect her husband, but Danforth will not listen and chooses to believe that he's proven that Abigail is innocent of wrongdoing.  Hale, however, claims that "private vengeance is working through this testimony" and that he can no longer "shut [his] conscience to it [...]" anymore.  Danforth disagrees.

Further, Hale is skeptical of the "evidence" presented by Abigail against Mary Warren -- the testimony about the yellow bird that is supposedly Mary's spirit.  Hale tries to serve as a voice of reason during this chaos, saying that he can see nothing of what Abigail describes, and he tries to object, but Danforth shuts him down, saying, "I will have nothing from you, Mr. Hale."  Danforth takes issue with Hale's interruptions and insistence that Abigail and the girls are guilty of the attempted murder of those they accuse; Hale believes Mary Warren's testimony, but Danforth believes that he has disproven any guilt relating to Abigail.  Danforth believes there are really witches in Salem, while Hale seems to have arrived at the truth: that the girls are making it all up.

Later, in Act Four, after Hale has returned to Salem, Danforth takes issue with Hale's goals.  Hale says that he counsels the innocent persons condemned to die to lie and confess in order to save their own lives.  Judge Hathorne declares that "It is no lie," and Hale exclaims, "It is a lie!  They are innocent!"  However, Danforth will "hear no more of that!"  He is clearly disgusted with Hale at this point, and when Hale next tries to speak to him, he "press[es] Hale impatiently aside" and eventually "brushes past Hale and walks out," ignoring Hale's attempts to talk with him.

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mkcapen1 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Danforth brought Hale, an expert on the devil and witchcraft and a minister, to help to determine if there has been the devil's work in the community.  Danforth expects that Reverend Hale will support all his own findings.  However, after the Reverend has had a chance to witness what has been happening in the community, he has come to realize that there is no devil’s work but the superstitions of people.  Danforth refuses to accept Hale’s conclusions.

Hale then begins to visit the prisoners and pray with them.  He wants them to lie so they will be freed instead of hung for crimes they did not commit.  Danforth’s dilemma is to try and combat the concerns that he has convicted too many people.  The citizens have become concerned that it has gotten out of hand.  He is committed to his belief that he is making the right decisions by God, when in fact he has been the assistant to evil and injustice.

 

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