Power and Pride are both evident in Danforth’s exchange with Giles.  He doesn’t like the way that Giles effectively argues the law so she changes things so he can arrest Giles.  As a judge, Danforth should know better than to react emotionally (pride).

Moral Pride is evident when Hale says to Danforth, “Your honour, I cannot think you may judge the man on such evidence” to which Danforth replies, I judge nothing” (91). This instance is one of many where characters say that they are not passing judgement on others.  (Think about the difference between judgement, passing judgement, being judgmental).  In fact, much of the strife in Miller’s Salem seems to stem from people (claiming to interpret God) making judgements about other’s purity and godliness.

Guilt by Association is evident in the section about Giles which underscores two themes.  The first, that witch trials (like their modern counterparts) are often manipulated to serve personal ends, as with Putnam.  The second is that of guilt by association.  Many who present evidence to the court find themselves arrested, and those who refuse to name names (like Giles) then find themselves in jail.

This same topic appears later in Danforth’s speech (100) where he shows his unwillingness to admit that he may have put his trust in the wrong party.  Miller is also using this to make a statement about the inherent injustice of a trial that uses association and hearsay as proof of guilt.

Corporal Punishment The role of physical discipline in the Salem that Miller depicts plays a vital role in the downfall of John Proctor.  Notice how Mary breaks under Danforth’s pressure and turns on Proctor (who threatened her with violence earlier).

Threats from Abigail to Danforth are important:  Let you beware Mr. Danforth.  Think you to be so mighty that the power of Hell may not turn your wits?” (108).  In this quotation, Miller comments on the ability of a witch hunt to turn on anyone who dares to question it.  Ironically, Abigail’s statement also alerts the audience that perhaps some evil power has turned Danforth’s wits – enough to make him send nineteen innocent people to the gallows.

Notice that each time Abigail senses someone turning from her or believing her less she starts a new cry or utters a new threat.  (The yellow bird, Rev. Hale’s wife later).

Hale remains the voice of reason in the play.  He urges Danforth to listen to John and Elizabeth and when Elizabeth lies to protect John Hale suggests it is very natural and any wife would do the same.

At the end of this Act, Proctor has seen things turned upside down in the court and he screams out that “God is dead” (119) which, in the Puritan community, would be seen as a close allegiance with the Devil.  By saying this, Proctor is demonstrating his loss of faith.  How can he continue to believe in a God who could let innocent people die because of the lies told by impressionable young girls led by Abigail (not so impressionable and certainly selfish).

Hale, the voice of reason, says, “I denounce these proceedings.  I quit this court!” showing that reason has left the vicinity (120).

Consider how Danforth’s pride makes him behave.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Post comment