What "law" is Danforth referring to in his assertion: "I should hang ten thousand that dared to rise against the law, and an ocean of salt tears could not melt the resolutions of the statutes?"

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

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This is a very interesting question.  Where Danforth derives his power and how he constructs his idea of fundamental justice are really interesting elements because there is little established that permits him to do what he does.  Perhaps, this is Miller's own statement that those who are zealously acting in defense of the law might be mistaken about its very basis in the first place.  Danforth seems to be acting in the name of the legal standards of practice that govern Salem.  This involves a theocratic view of political order, one that seeks to punish and act in the name of the divine.  Danforth uses counsel and ideas from Parris in order to make this a reality.  Yet, it is really unclear from what position he is operating.  It is evident that Danforth only accepts evidence, or what is perceived to it, in order to substantiate the Status Quo.  He does not accept any form of evidence that undermines this system.  The idea of "rise against the law" is morphed to represent anyone that seeks to "bring down" the court.  Miller uses this line to show how intolerant Danforth is of dissent and difference, and how he uses his position as a judge to carry out his political agenda.  This set of ideas punishes those who wish to question the trials and rewards those who validate it.  In the end, this state of being becomes "the law" to which Danforth is so committed, something that is more geared towards his own substantiation and not anything towards social welfare or public good.

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