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What Is The Importance Of Danforth In The Crucible And How Does Miller Present Him

1349 words - 6 pages

What is the importance of Danforth in the play and how does Miller present him? – Timed conditions: 45 minutes – took 50 minutes
Danforth becomes a major character in the play even though we do not meet him until Act three, which is the pinnacle of the play. Miller uses Danforth to symbolise the blackness and corruption of this perverse justice system in Salem, which seems only to destroy innocent people in the name of God. This is a technique Miller uses so that his audience can create parallels to other groups, who have committed massacres and torture in the name of religion or politics. Here he aims to make parallels with McCarthyism and HUAC. During the McCarthyism era many were ...view middle of the document...

) This is clearly shown by Miller when Francis tells Danforth that he is being “deceived.” The use of this verb by Francis shocks Danforth making him see it as contempt of the court. Also Danforth starts to boast his supposed captures of witches: “four hundred are in the jails… and seventy-two condemned to hang by that signature.” The clear brutality of Danforth presents him as callous and emotionally detached. He does not seem to care that he has condemned many to die yet he seems to be very proud of his apparent achievements. His sole priority, at times, does not seem to be the hunting of the devil but instead to ensure that the court and his authority are not undermined. When Proctor first enters with Mary he cares not for the deposition instead he seems focused on whether this new found evidence (“have you given out this story in the village?”) has become public knowledge as if the village did know Danforth’s court reputation would be forever tarnished.
Danforth has a firm belief that “the voice of heaven is speaking through the children.” This presents the idea that everything they say is God’s dictum. This shocks the audience as we know the girls are liars and Danforth’s belief that they are the voice of God is extremely foolish and Miller presents it in a way that Danforth is seen as to be unfit as a judge. However at this point we get a sense that Danforth is only arguing for the court so as to defend his own reputation because the whole of the trials stand upon the words of these girls and if they are found out to be false; their whole system would be torn down. So hear Danforth is presented as selfish and egotistical (much like Parris) as he cares not for those who may die at his hands instead he cares only for his reputation. Miller uses fire imagery as bitter irony: “We burn a hot fire here; it melts down all concealment.” As the court is not melting down lies but instead torturing the innocent and charring all evidence of the truth. This links to the title of the play as crucibles are vessels, which contain both impure and pure things, which are then heated to ensure only the pure things are left (links to idea of purifying of souls.) However in this case it’s an ironic use as the pure items are the ones which are persecuted in this play (Rebecca and Proctor) and the impurities are left to remain with the most power.
Danforth is presented by Miller as extremely narrow minded: “a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it.” He sees everything as simply black and white, good and evil, God or the devil. As a representative of theocracy, he is immoveable and even when knows the truth, he refuses to sway. This sort of fanatical dogmatism is what Miller is so keen to...

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