The dramatic impact of the character of Danforth

The climax of The Crucible is the accusing of the Proctors for being involved in witchcraft. The Proctors try to get their servant to confess what she did in the forest with the other girls. When the trail reaches court she turns her back on the Proctor and returns to the side of the girls. The courtroom tension continues until the trial and speeches reach a final conclusion. This conclusion is that John Proctor is guilty and must be hanged and executed.

The final action of The Crucible is the actual execution of John Proctor. Yet he holds his innocence of being a possessed by the evil spirits all the way to his execution and the end of his life. Judge Danforth is a prominent character in the play, and one of the main persecutors of those accused of witchcraft. He comes across in the play as a hard man, and one not willing to change his views. He is the main judge we see in the play, and is in charge of hearing all evidence against people, and judging them.

The simple fact that he does not let any one of those accused off the charges, unless they confess, creates the impression that he is a hard man, with very little sympathy or any kinder human traits. However, during the play, there are times when he seems to be gentler with some people. The first mention of Danforth is in Act three. Miller includes notes about many of the characters in the stage directions, and those of Danforth give an instant impression about him.

‘Danforth is a grave man in his sixties, of some humor and sophistication, that does not, however interfere with an exact loyalty to his position and his cause. ‘ He brings religion into his arguments a lot, mainly criticising those who do not attend church regularly. He seems to have more respect for those who are what he thinks of as ‘good Christians’ who uphold and live a Christian lifestyle. Danforth: ‘You are in all respects a gospel Christian? ‘ Procter: ‘I am, sir’ Danforth: ‘Such a Christian that will not come to church but once a month? ‘

Danforth: ‘… Plough on Sunday? ‘ In this last quote, Danforth seems disbelieving that a man who considered himself a Christian could plough on a Sunday. While nowadays this would be acceptable, in the days Miller was writing about, a man generally could not call himself a Christian unless he adopted a rather strict way of life, and obeyed the rigid rules of the church. Judge Danforth wants to respect Christians, and while using an apparent lack of Christianity against the people accused of witchcraft, he seems to admire the use of it to accuse them justly.

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