Rhetorical Questions In The Crucible

698 Words3 Pages

The Salem Witch Trials were a series of court hearings and prosecutions of people accused of witchcraft throughout Massachusetts during the late seventeenth century and early eighteenth century. This historical event has been referenced in forms of art, music, literature, movies, and other forms of media. One of the most significant literary depictions of the Salem Witch Trials is known as The Crucible. The Crucible is a play in which is partially fictionalized to produce a more dramatic story to the real-life events which had already taken place. Characters in the play have been known to act out in order to satisfy their own motive. In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Deputy Governor Danforth is motivated to keep the fear of witchcraft alive …show more content…

Initially, Danforth was thought of as a man of righteousness willing to serve justice, but as more events start to unfold, it has become evident that his actions had sprung from the ideas of self-righteousness and the desire to preserve authority within the court. During the trials, Danforth’s often use of rhetorical questions is a way of asserting power, such as when he states, “Do you know who I am, Mr.Nurse?” (Act III 87). Danforth is questioning others, knowingly that he is of a higher social stature, in disbelief as others are tempted to challenge his authority. Another occurrence of Danforth’s abuse of power occurs when he states “And do you know that near to four hundred are in the jails from Marblehead to Lynn, and upon my signature?” ( Miller Act III, 87). Danforth feels the need to announce the extent of his power in which he holds over the court. By doing this, Danforth is able to maintain dominance and superiority. In The Crucible, Judge Danforth is determined to prolong the fear of witchcraft in Salem in order to sustain authority and supremacy through the abuse of …show more content…

Later on, it is revealed that one of the main characters, Abigail Williams, who played the role of an accuser as well as one of the women being “afflicted” by the “witches,” has flied Salem. At this point in time, Danforth has come to the realization that the witch trials may have been all an act. But Danforth’s unwillingness to admit to his wrongs is evident when stating “I will not receive a single plea for pardon or postponement. Them that will not confess will hang. Twelve are already executed; the names of these seven are given out, and the village expects to see them die this morning. Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now” (Miller Act IV, 129). Danforth refuses to accept the potential consequences of his erroneous judgments. Danforth’s ulterior motives have become more obvious as Danforth is willing to fabricate a confession and sacrifice another man’s name to satisfy his own selfish motives. In The Crucible, Deputy Governor Danforth is motivated to keep the fear of witchcraft alive in Salem in order to maintain authority and preserve his reputation through manipulation of

Open Document