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Thomas Danforth (The Crucible)

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Who weeps for these weeps for corruption.
~ Danforth on the people he has sentenced to hang, three innocents.
Scofield Crucible

Danforth interrogates Mary Warren.

Deputy Governor Thomas Danforth is the secondary antagonist in The Crucible.

Biography

In Arthur Miller's play The Crucible, Danforth is depicted as the leading judicial figure overseeing the Salem trials. Miller portrays Danforth as an honest but domineering and selfish judge, under whose authority many are imprisoned and sentenced to hang. When John Proctor, an accused, defies his authority at the end of the play by refusing to lie and sign a public confession saying that he is a witch and accusing others, he is mercilessly sentenced to hang. In an introduction to the play, Miller wrote that he had combined several persons and made other changes to the historical characters for dramatic purposes. Danforth later proves to be a hypocrite after he continues hanging people he knows are innocent to protect his reputation.

Miller also wrote the screenplay for the 1996 film version of the play, in which the name Danforth was retained (portrayed by actor Paul Scofield) as the principal judicial antagonist. In the 1957 film adaptation of the play, whose screenplay was written by Jean-Paul Sartre, Danforth (portrayed by Raymond Rouleau, who also directed the picture) is portrayed in the same way. In the 1980 BBC adaption Eric Porter was highly acclaimed for his portrayal of Danforth.

Quotes

  • "The pure in heart need no lawyers."
  • "These will be sufficient. Sit you down, children. Your friend, Mary Warren, has given us a deposition. In which she swears that she never saw familiar spirits, apparitions, nor any manifest of the Devil. She claims as well that none of you have not seen these things either. Now, children, this is a court of law. The law, based upon the Bible, and the Bible, writ by Almighty God, forbid the practice of witchcraft, and describe death as the penalty thereof. But likewise, children, the law and Bible damn all bearers of false witness. Now then. It does not escape me that this deposition may be devised to blind us; it may well be that Mary Warren has been conquered by Satan, who sends her here to distract our sacred purpose. If so, her neck will break for it. But if she speak true, I bid you now drop your guile and confess your pretense, for a quick confession will go easier with you. Abigail Williams, rise. Is there any truth in this?"

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