Deputy Governor Danforth has great influence over the proceedings in court in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible . He is a man who truly believes in the court system that he has been a part of for thirty-two years. However, he is blinded by his own arrogance, and his intimidating...
Deputy Governor Danforth has great influence over the proceedings in court in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible. He is a man who truly believes in the court system that he has been a part of for thirty-two years. However, he is blinded by his own arrogance, and his intimidating attitude helps to sway the proceedings in the wrong direction.
Danforth claims that the court will find the truth. “We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment.” In his eyes, the innocent need not worry because the truth will protect them. So great is his belief in the court system as an agent of God to reveal truth that Danforth never considers the possibility that the system is failing. He says, “No uncorrupted man may fear this court.” Yet, his intimidating and forceful tone is feared.
He believes that there is something going on, and he’s determined to find what it is. Danforth tells Hale that “there is a prodigious guilt in the country” and reminds the court that the Bible prohibits witchcraft. He feels it is his duty to uphold the law of the government and of God.
Danforth’s arrogance, however, gets in the way of justice. He feels the weight of authority on his shoulders and knows that people’s lives depend on his judgement. Therefore, he makes a point of reminding everyone that he has signed more than 400 people into jail and 72 death warrants.
It becomes clear that part of the reason Danforth does not want to consider that the girls are lying is because it would make him part of the problem. If he finds that the witchcraft accusations are a hoax, that would mean he has murdered 72 people already, and in the future, he will kill over 400 more. He becomes quite indignant when he feels his authority is being questioned.
In addition, Danforth’s blindness also prevents justice and moves the court proceedings in the wrong direction. He is blinded to Abigail’s true character. He calls her a child, which indicates that he thinks she is not capable of deceit. Although several people testify against her, Danforth stubbornly will not change his mind. He believes non-evidence over real stories. He tells the court that witchcraft is “an invisible crime” so there is no way to actually prove it with evidence; therefore, they must rely on victims’ testimonies. Danforth is stubborn and blinded to truth.
There was never a possibility that the trial would expose the true villains because Danforth is not really open to truth and considers his own reputation. He never backs down, even later when Hale begs him to reconsider his ruling. Danforth reminds Hale that he has already hanged people and to change his mind “speaks a floundering on my part.” He also states that he would kill ten thousand more people if they broke the law. Ironically, Danforth, the man who is entrusted with upholding the law, thwarts every possible attempt to bring truth to light.