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What Is the Importance of Danforth in the Crucible and How Does Miller Present Him

  • Date Submitted: 03/09/2014 09:27 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 58.8 
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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 “blacklisted”, meaning they were unable to find work for many years, in other cases people were jailed. Similar to Danforth’s creating of fear in Salem HUAC created an atmosphere of terror too. Also Danforth parallels HUAC’s behaviour in which the narrow-mindedness and zeal of the government authority meant that the rights of individual people were ignored. Danforth is also demonstrative of real evil within the play as even though he realises the court is standing on a pillar of lies his determination to preserve their idea of justice is too powerful.
Right from the entrance of Danforth in Act three Miller creates an instant sense of power and authority around him: “On his appearance, silence falls… exact loyalty to his position and cause.”   The mere fact that everybody instantly falls silent without a word being spoken by Danforth emphasises the power he exudes and the worth of his authority. The adjective “exact” highlights that in his view the job he has allows no margin for error; he is clearly devoted to destroying any hint of the devil he may see. However because he is so stubborn and convinced of his own authority; he will not have it questioned. He takes great pride in his name and reputation, pride being the deadliest sin.) This is clearly shown by Miller when Francis tells...

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