In Act 3 of The Crucible, what does the response of the judges to John Proctor and Francis Nurse suggest about the way the trials are being conducted?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When John Proctor and Francis Nurse enter the courtroom with their deposition signed by 91 people of Salem testifying of their wives' and Martha Corey's good names, Judge Danforth immediately becomes defensive.  He orders that the people be brought in for questioning and then several lines later refers to it as "arrest."  He commands:

"'Mr. Cheever, have warrants drawn for all of these--arrest for examination.'"

The immediacy and hard-handedness of the judge's reaction demonstrates that not only is he afraid of an insurrection among the people, but he also realizes that if he does not act quickly he will lose all respect and authority not just in Salem but quite possibly throughout all of New England.

This incident similarly illustrates that the judges might know that they are in the wrong but that they think it is too late to turn back at this point; thus, they are willing to set aside sound evidence and, ultimately, truth to save their reputations.