What is the relationship between Danforth and Reverend Samuel Parris in The Crucible? Danforth and John Proctor? Danforth and the townspeople? 

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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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  1. Danforth & Parris: Danforth is a powerful man whose authority is helping further Parris' own interests. Parris, as the town reverend, is supposed to be powerful, but people in the town don't respect him as much as he thinks they should. As a result, Parris is an avid supporter and "toady" or sycophant of Danforth's work. 
  2. Danforth & Proctor: Initially, Proctor respects Danforth because of Danforth's authority. Unlike Parris, whom Proctor strongly dislikes, Danforth seems like a person who is strong and educated and could therefore use his power wisely and objectively. Unfortunately, over the course of Act III, it becomes apparent that Danforth plans on using his power in a way that only helps those who believes deserve being helped, and the Proctor family is not among that population. As a result, by the end of Act III, Danforth and Proctor strongly dislike each other: Danforth because he thinks Proctor is working against him (and therefore on the side of evil), and Proctor because he believes that Danforth is being unfair and corrupt. 
  3. Danforth & the Townspeople: Some of the townspeople still like Danforth - these are the ones still sitting and watching the trials with rapt attention, who believe firmly in the girls and the witches, and for whom Danforth is a wise and just authority figure. Other people, particularly people like the Coreys and Proctors who live further from town and have family members accused, do not trust Danforth. 
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kcoleman2016 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Here are some questions to get you started.

Judge Danforth & Reverend Parris (Act III): 

  • When other characters are speaking, Parris often interrupts or contributes to the conversation, despite not being addressed. Why does he do this? Can you think of characters from other plays, movies, shows, or books who also do this?
  • Why does Parris keep insisting to Danforth that Proctor is attacking the court? What does Parris stand to lose if Proctor is right? 
  • At what point does Danforth lose his temper with Parris? Why? 

Judge Danforth & John Proctor (Act III): 

  • At the beginning of Act III, how does Proctor approach Danforth? Does he appear to be hopeful or hopeless that Mary Warren will make a difference? 
  • What is the distribution of power in this line by Danforth? "I judge nothing. Pause. He keeps watching Proctor, who tries to meet his gaze. I tell you straight, Mister - I have seen marvels in this court. I have seen people choked before my eyes by spirits; I have seen them stuck by pins and slashed by daggers. I have until this moment not the slightest reason to suspect that the children may be deceiving me. Do you understand my meaning?" (Miller 91)

Judge Danforth & Townspeople (Act III): 

  • How do the townspeople react when Giles Corey tries to bring evidence to the court? Whose side do they appear to be on?
  • How many people have signed the declaration on the good opinion of Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and Elizabeth Proctor? What kind of people have signed this document? How does Danforth react to the declaration? 

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