To What Extent Is the Crucible a Play About Tyranny?

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Tyranny means oppressive use of absolute power held by an individual leader to enforce obedience by force or threats. Tyranny is clearly present in The Crucible in various characters, but especially Danforth with his authority in the court and Abigail with the influence she gains over the whole village, in particular the girls who participate in the witch trials with her. In Act Three Danforth tells Giles Corey and Francis Nurse that there are ‘seventy-two condemned to hang by [his] signature’. Danforth has the most influence in the court, as he ultimately decides which sentence each person accused of witchcraft will receive. He highlights the extreme power he possesses in response to Corey and Nurse coming to court to protest against the accusations against their wives. It seems that by telling them how much power he has to control people’s lives, he is trying to intimidate and subtly threaten the men not to create difficulties for him by opposing his decision to have Rebecca Nurse hanged and likely sentence Martha Corey to the same fate. It is in his interest to prevent people from discussing the possibility of the court being wrong because he is a very well-respected judge and his reputation is under threat if more people begin to agree with Corey and Nurse. Danforth’s use of his position of his authority to protect his own interests is a clear example of tyranny in the play. Judge Hathorne and Reverend Parris, although they could not be considered tyrants themselves, help Danforth to maintain his power because they know that it will help to protect their reputations too as they have also been involved in the judgement of the people who have already been arrested and sentenced to death. They do this by immediately attempting to discredit the men’s claims that girls’ accusations are false. Hathorne says of Corey and Nurse that ‘they must both be arrested in contempt’ and when Proctor arrives Parris tells Danforth that ‘they’ve come to overthrow the court’. They...
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