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What is the dramatic impact of the character of Danforth in the Crucible? How does Miller use him in the play?

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Introduction

What is the dramatic impact of the character of Danforth in the Crucible? How does Miller use him in the play? The Crucible was written by Arthur Miller as an allegory. He wrote the Crucible at a time during a modern day witch-hunt. The witch-hunt was the hunt for communists in the USA. Many of Millers friends were being persecuted and being attacked for being communists, which they were not. In 1956 Miller himself was accused of being a Communist and was brought before the House of Un-American Activities Committee. Here he was found guilty in communist beliefs. Later in 1957 this decision was over ruled. Miller then went on to marry Marilyn Monroe but divorced in 1961. The Crucible is told from a third person point of view. The characters don't address the audience directly but do obviously address each other directly. In the Crucible Miller portrays the good, the bad and the evil of Salem, a small village in Massachusetts. He shows that even the most religious people can make huge, costly mistakes. Miller shows this through the actions and words of the characters. The Crucible is set during a series of mad witch-hunts in Salem in the late 17th century. ...read more.

Middle

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. ...read more.

Conclusion

He may not be convinced of Goody Procter's guilt, which brings in another theme often linked to Danforth, which is pride. Danforth obviously has a lot of pride. He has a lot of belief in his personal power, and obviously thinks of himself as a good Christian. He sees any challenge against the court as an attack on the court, and therefore an attack on him. He refuses to hear defense against those accused without seeing it as an attack, or a sign of witchcraft in whoever is defending a 'witch'. When Mary Warren challenges the truth of the accusations, he listens, and probably has doubts about the charges against Goody Procter, and later on, Procter. He does not withdraw any decision already made, however, as that would prove himself wrong before, and show weakness now. Judge Danforth feels he cannot let anyone off any charges for which others have already been punished. This is very moral in a sense, but usually when people's lives are at stake a fairer trial is given. Surely a judge believing in justice would rather lose his good reputation than the lives of innocent people? Danforth obviously does not feel this way and becomes hard, showing now remorse at the end of the play as he says: 'Let them hang high over the town. Those who weep for these weep for corruption.' Philip Jacobs 10R ...read more.

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