Hypocrisy In The Crucible

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Although the 1692 Salem Witch Trials were a minor event in American history, the names of those who were hanged are not forgotten. Their names are remembered today because of Arthur Miller, a man who believes that past events are connected to present realities through a strong moral logic. The trial’s motives and themes seemed to parallel those of a major movement in the late 1950s—McCarthyism. In his play, The Crucible, Miller retells the story of the witch trials and relates themes that were prominent in Salem to those prominent during McCarthyism. In doing so, he creates a character who nearly exemplifies Joseph McCarthy himself—Deputy Governor Danforth. As the presiding judge at the witch trials, Danforth exhibits the themes of reputation …show more content…
In Act 3, when Danforth asks Abigail if she denies Proctor’s confession, Abigail responds menacingly, saying, “If I must answer that, I will leave and I will not come back again!” (103). Shocked by her reaction, Danforth becomes “unsteady” (103). Although Danforth enjoys his power and authority in Salem, the one person he has no authority over is the manipulative Abigail Williams. Danforth mostly relies on Abigail’s judgement before making the final decision on a person’s life, and his submissiveness to her only strengthens Abigail’s reputation as an authority in the court. His questioning her was Danforth’s weak attempt to gain some control over Abigail, over her power in the court. Yet, he fails to do so and becomes afraid of her threat to leave. His hypocritical nature throughout the play relies solely on Abigail’s claims. If she were to leave, he would have no person to blame for his wrong judgment and all his “work for God” would mean absolutely nothing. If his hypocrisy in the trials fails to protect his reputation, then he ultimately loses all of his power and authority. But his worst hope evidently becomes true in Act 4. As he meets with Parris, Parris admits that Abigail stole his money and left town. Upon hearing this news, Danforth becomes “alarmed and deeply worried” (117). Without Abigail, he has no basis for his actions and finally faces the possibility that the adults were right—the girls were frauds. In this moment, Danforth realizes that his reputation is on the line and determines to do anything to protect his good name. When Hale begs him to postpone the hangings, Danforth replies, “Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out . . . Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part . . . While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering” (119). This is the

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