The Crucible

The Devil’s Own: Danforth and His Character Transformation in Salem 10th Grade

By the time Judge Danforth appears in Act III of The Crucible, the audience has become acquainted with a host of characters, each of which are motivated, in turn, by a desire to better their position, need for attention, saving of reputation, and in the case of the accused, saving of their very lives. Judge Danforth stands unique in this landscape, in that he is not driven by any sort of personal motive. He is the state, the court, the authority that will impose order and respect from above on the unholy mess in Salem. His arrival is welcomed by both sides, and his presence serves to illustrate the divergence in everyone’s motivations. Ultimately, while it is not self-interest, his consummate goal is to preserve the authority of the court and the power of the institution he represents, no matter the cost. It is precisely because the innocent-accused believe in the institution he represents and are appealing to it, that the unfolding of Danforth’s character and his allegiances his so devastating.

Danforth establishes his authority early on: “This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it?” (III.79). Danforth is committed to the fairness judicial process; he can even be said to be somewhat...

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