Danforth Essay, Research Paper

“I can’t believe the news today, I can’t close my eyes, and make it go away.”-Hewson

Judges, by their very nature, are used to protect and uphold certain societal values which

the majority deems necessary. If you ignore the majority, then you become somewhat of a

tyrant, if you ignore the minority, then you really step into danger. The minority is always the

group that uprises, that is just a logical conclusion, seeing how if the majority wanted to uprise,

it would have already occurred. Danforth decides that he can somehow sustain the outcry from

the majority, and the anger of the minority. Danforth isn’t a judge, he is an executioner. Piling

stones atop an old man’s chest isn’t justice, its cruel and unusual punishment, that wouldn’t be

done by a judge, it would be done by an executioner. How did such a man get to where he was?

How can one run a sort of tyranny over the masses? What happens to Danforth’s personality

when he gets his back against the wall. Danforth’s paradox of ?justice,’ and society, clashing


How could such a man get to where he was? How could someone pile stones on top of

people, until their chest collapsed under the immense weight? Why would someone hang 27

people in less then two weeks? The answer is simple, in the name of God. When John Proctor

yelled “I TELL YOU GOD IS DEAD,” perhaps he was speaking the simple truth. We hear the

same saying from the German philosopher Nietzsche in the 18th century. Perhaps they both

speak the truth. What, if anything, if there even is one, would God say if he saw a hunt for

societal witches? It is in the Bible, is it not? If its in the Bible, it must be true! There is logical

reasoning for you; “Well, that’s 45 witches we’ve burned now, that ought to show God whose

side we are on.” Quite simply, the only way Danforth became what he was was through the

power of the masses, and unfortunately, their ignorance.

Danforth is able to run a totalitarianism regime over the common folk of Salem, it

doesn’t last long though. The people are immediately swept into the notion of witchcraft in the

community, and they want to line their own pockets at others expense. The accusations are wild,

illogical, and not sacrilegious. It doesn’t take long before half of the community is ?exposed’ as

witches. Danforth runs a tyranny simply by feeding off the emotions within the town. He is

originally made out to be a hero, the society upholder of justice. The voice of God, the voice of

the holy savior. He himself becomes swept up with the influence that the masses have over him,

almost reminiscent of Adolf Hitler. The trouble is when he goes too far, and even then society

looks skeptical, and Danforth’s back is thrown against the wall.

Once against the wall, you would think a prudent individual to step down, or at least

settle down. Danforth does nothing of the sort. He tells he will hang thousands who come

before him, because he is the finger of the lord. Danforth’s insanity simply grows when he

realizes he has been made the fool of the community. He apparently finds a way to remedy such

a problem, hang everyone in the town. The only problem to foresee is that eventually all will be

dead. It is blatantly obvious that Danforth is on God’s side, because, much like a modern day

stop sign, the ten commandments are only suggestions. This is Danforth’s paradox, his justice is

a black hole, nothing of value can escape from it.

Danforth is one of the most interesting characters in this entire play. I feel he thinks

himself the representative of the community, the law, and even God himself. He run a sort of

?judging paradigm’ that will never be matched again in this country. He kills the innocent, and

watches them die. He pays little attention to the few outcries from the community. He becomes

so swept up into his own idealism, and rhetoric, that justice is darkened. The attempt to purify

the community of witches, fails, of course. Because there will always be witches, they are the

ones who accuse others. Those who are guilty question the evidence. Danforth is the epitome of

today’s society injustice.

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