What was Danforth's reasoning for not granting pardons?

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Before John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse mount the gibbet in act four, Reverend Hale desperately pleads with Deputy Governor Danforth to postpone the hangings or pardon the accused citizens in order to avoid inciting a rebellion. Danforth realizes that he is taking a great risk by executing such prestigious community members but remains resolute and refuses to compromise. Danforth tells Hale that twelve citizens have already been executed, and the town expects the same thing to happen to John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. Danforth then says,

Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now (Miller, 129).

Danforth desires to appear strong and resolute as the court's leading authority figure. He is selfishly concerned about his own reputation and does not want to be viewed as weak or uncertain. Danforth also knows that pardoning the accused citizens will cast doubt on the previous proceedings, where innocent people were publicly executed. Rather than compromise and accept responsibility for the previous executions, Danforth stubbornly refuses to budge and says that he is willing to execute "ten thousand that dared to rise against the law." Overall, Danforth refuses to pardon Proctor, Nurse, and Corey because he does not want to be viewed as weak or cast doubt upon the previous executions.

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Simply put, Danforth refuses to grant a pardon because he is afraid it will perceived as weakness of the court.  Danforth is extremely driven by the sense of prestige and the perception of the court by the citizens of Salem.  This can be seen during the trial when Danforth questioned Proctor as to his intent.  The idea of subverting the court is something that is unacceptable to Danforth, who is more concerned with the prestige of the court and its appearance of being the arbiter of justice as opposed to any other concerns.  Danforth believes that granting pardons would delegitimize the court and lessen its credibility.  As Act IV progresses, it becomes evident that the rebellions towards the court in neighboring Andover is a pressing issue in Danforth's mind.  To this end, he does not want anything to prevent the court's perception as being able to deliver on its assurances and judgments.  In this light, granting a pardon, while it might be more in line with the pursuit of justice, is something that Danforth sees as a potential weakness, and not something that he could embrace.

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