What were Elizabeth and Danforth desires that motivated them to act the way they do in The Crucible?Please give descriptive details about them and a memorable quote.

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

DANFORTH went to great effort to assert his authority. I think his real life character had a little bit of a superiority complex. He longed for power and this situation gave him great opportunity to exercise that control. Regularly throughout Act III, he asserted that if people were indeed innocent then their consciences would be clear. If their consciences were clear, there is no way that evil would prevail. Because Danforth repeats this, I believe he believed it. I also think Danforth had sincere Puritan conviction to rid the town of the corruption that had descended upon it:

No uncorrupted man may fear this court! None! To Giles: You are under arrest in contempt of this court. Now sit you down and take counsel with yourself, or you will be set in the jail until you decide to answer all questions.

Giles refused to share testimony on behalf of an anonymous informant. This demonstrates great respect for the informant. Danforth sees is at obstruction of justice.

ELIZABETH is motivated by the desire to seek reparation in her marriage. Although John cheated on her, she realizes that she drove him to do it by being so cold to him. By the end, we see this comes full circle for her. Love means selfLESSness. For the first half of the play, we see Elizabeth sulking in her own self-pity. But by the end, she wants for John what he wants for himself:

He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!

This portrays that even in death, Elizabeth has a new-found respect for John's wishes and that is true love.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Elizabeth Proctor demonstrates a unique strength of character throughout the play. In her conversation with John in Act I Elizabeth remains remarkably civil, perhaps for her children and the greater good for the family. In Act III while Elizabeth is being humiliated by Danforth see shows empathy towards her husband when she suggests that her illness might have been 'difficult' on her family. Lastly, Act IV when Elizabeth realizes and respects John's decision to recant his testimony her sense of forgiveness and compassion shows a higher sense of understanding.

Danforth understands he has a position of importance and role in the trials, however he is limited in his genuine comprehension of the severity of his charge. Although by the end of Act III he has doubt with regard to the accusations he does not stand up and voice that doubt. However, he does in Act III remind the court of the previous warrants he has already signed condemning those who were guilty of witchcraft. In other words, Danforth is unwilling to acquiesce because that action might cast doubt over his previous actions.