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One of the main reasons for the society in Salem to fear the government was because of Salem’s flawed court system. Arthur Miller may have used this to show how corrupt the court system of America was during the McCarthy trials. Within the courts of Salem, if accused of a crime, the victim was expected to confess, denial was seen as a terrible sin. The victim’s innocence was not taken into consideration. If the victim was genuinely innocent, they were faced with two choices. They could either deny the accusation or confess. If they chose to deny the accusation, then they would be executed.

Similarly if they confessed to the crime, then they would be jailed. Danforth was particularly ruthless when it came to judging the innocence of others. He would ask question after question until the accused broke down and confessed their alleged crime in order to spare their life. Speaking to Mary Warren Danforth questions her about Procter, “Has he ever threatened you? “. The stage directions for Danforth read ‘sensing a weakening’ and Danforth is persistant, “Has he ever threatened you? ” he asks again “Then you tell me that you sat in my court, callously lying, when you knew that people would hange by your evidenc?


Answer me! ” “How were you instructed in your life? ” All of these questions are shot at Mary Warren one after the other until, eventually she breaks down and accuse Procter of witchcraft. Towards the end of the play the audience will notice that reverend Hale is beginning to doubt Danforth’s judgement and he makes a very important observation, “Is every defense an attack upon the court? ” If anyone tries to defend himself or herself in court, then they would be accused of disturbing the court. This is an example of the corrupt court system in Salem.

Hale also states that the community of Salem fears the government and it’s courts, “We cannot blink it more. There is a prodigious fear of this court in the country-” Danforth refuses to believe Hale’s advice and believes that “There is a moving plot to topple Christ in the country! ” He also states that “No uncorrupted man may fear this court. ” This is ironic, as Giles is uncorrupted. Nevertheless, he was held in contempt and executed. Another example of dramatic irony present in the play is when Danforth asks Giles who gave him the information “If you informant tells the truth let him come here openly like a decent man.

But if he hide in anonymity I must know why. ” The last part of that sentence “I must know why”, is important as it is because of Danforth that Giles will not reveal his informant’s name. Towards the end of the play, Hale is shown to be striving with his soul because he does not believe in Danforth’s judgement. “Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrants; I am a minister of the Lord, and I dare not take a life without there be a proof so immaculate no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it. ” Danforth realizes that Hale does not believe in his justice, “Mr. Hale, you surely do not doubt my justice.

” Hale is trying to explain to Danforth the situation that he has been put in. There is an inner conflict between Danforth and Hale; Hale is unsure about what action to take, namely listen to Danforth or his own conscience. If he disobeys Danforth in any way or suggests that Danforth’s judgement is unfair then he would be risking his own life and his position. Later in the play, Hale encourages people who have been accused to save their lives by confessing. “I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca Nurse, Your Honor. I’ll not conceal it, my hand shakes yet as with a wound!

I pray you sir, this argument let lawyers present to you. ” As Hale is unable to voice his opinion, this contributes to the deaths of inocent people. Danforth turns a blind eye to many of Hale’s pleas and appears not to believe or consider Hale’s arguments. A reason for this may be that Danforth realizes that Hale is speaking the truth and that the people of Salem are indeed innocent. However, having condemned and executed so many already, it is unlikely that Danforth would be willing to admit to the community of Salem that he was in error and that many innocent people died under his orders.

Arthur Miller pointedly shows up Danforth’s reluctance to confess. Had Arthur Miller made Danforth confess then he surely would have lost his position in society, something he was not willing to do. When presented with Mary Warren’s deposition, Danforth according to the stage directions ‘instantly’ says, “No, no I accept no depositions. ” Danforth is immediately trying to turn a blind eye to the evidence presented to him, as he does not want to accept the possibility that he might be wrong. The stage directions for Danforth read, ‘He is rapidly calculating this.

‘ He also “Studies Abigail for a moment” according to another set of stage directions. Therefore upon rejecting Mary Warren’s deposition, Danforth immediately begins to doubt himself and is contemplating that fact that Procter may be right and that he may be at fault. He also considers that Abigail may be lying to the court. Regardless, Danforth does not change his opinion and will not admit that he is wrong, even when presented with evidence, which suggests that his status in the community is of more importance to him than the lives of the townspeople of Salem.

In order to secure their reputation, position and/or power both Danforth and Parris offer Abigail and the girls many suggestions to prove their innocence. For example, when presented with evidence by Procter and Giles, Danforth questions Mary Warren, “Has he threatened you? ” As an audience viewing the play, (whether a modern or 17th century audience), the fact that Danforth is more concerned about his reputation rather than the welfare of the people of Salem, would be seen as inexcusable and amply prove his shallow character as a judge.

This event is also likely to instill hostility in the audience towards Danforth and/or Parris who are both thinking about their own selfish needs. Theoretically, none of the fears mentioned above should be present in a puritanical society such as this one. Arthur Miller brings the shortcomings of the society to the audience. These characteristics show that Salem society to have the capacity for the events that unfold later on in the play. Arthur Millers portrays the community of Salem as having a strong belief in the existence of witchcraft and evil and which in turn cause the insecurities and fears within Salems’ society.

Sadly, it is only to easy for someone to exploit these fears and insecurities to their advantage, which occurs later on in the play. As there is already a belief in witchcraft, Abigail and the girls use this fear of witchcraft and evil as an excuse for their behaviour and they blame other parties for practising witchcraft. Vulnerable communities can easily be manipulated and taken advantage of by persons who they presume to be innocent. Another reason that contributed to the belief in the girls’ stories was the society’s lack of diversity in beliefs and religions and possibly the lack of a leader in the town.

Since everyone in the society had the same beliefs it was easy for them to all agree on witchcraft causing the girls to dance. Arthur Miller convincingly portrays Salem as lacking a leader. Since Parris was head of the church in Salem, he would have been expected to be the town leader, as the church and the government were closely intertwined. Obviously, the community of Salem was so confused that someone left a dagger stuck in the door of Parris’s house. “Tonight, when I open my door to leave my house – a dagger clattered to the ground… There is danger for me.

” Parris was supposed to represent God in the community, however with Parris fearing for his life, only Abigail was left to lead the community, but in the end, she fled. The townspeople of Salem were all Puritans who led a strict lifestyle that did not allow for any variation. John Procter, a hard working farmer was absent from Sunday service from time to time due to the fact that he had a bad season the year before. Procter also disagreed with the appointment of Parris as the town’s minister; it was for this reason that his last child was not baptized; “I-I have no love for Mr.Parris. It is no secret. ”

Therefore, when John Procter is accused of indulging in witchcraft, the court accepts it because the accuser (Mary Warren) is a church going person while John Procter has been periodically absent from church. Arthur Miller clearly shows the tensions within the community and an audience will be able to see how these tensions ultimately lead to the destruction of the community. Bickering between neighbours make the society believe more strongly in evil forces and thus creates insecurities and fears.

Once again, the fears are only too easily exploited. Abigail easily intimidates the other girls when they were caught dancing in the woods and threatens them. “Let either of you breathe a word, or the edge of a word, about the other things, and I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you. ” Moreover, it is very noticeable that one of the plays biggest conflicts involves Abigail Williams. Another conflict was between John Procter and himself.

After being accused of witchcraft John was sent to prison. He had a choice of saving his life by confessing or denying the charges and being executed. Battling with himself, John tried to figure out what the right decision would be. He then decided “I want my life… I will have my life. ” By confessing, John thought that he had helped his wife and children, by keeping his name and the good reputation of the family. It was only then that Proctor was asked to sign a statement of his confession that was to be pinned on the church door for all to see.

For John Proctor, this was too much and he could not bear to sign his name as the church had already taken away his pride, morals and his honor. Just like Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey, John stood up to the government and the church and died for the principles that he believed in. Acts such as these also led to the deaths of innocent people, because people who did not confess were presumed guilty (despite the fact that they were not) and executed. In conclusion, there were numerous factors that contributed to the deaths of innocent people in Salem.

Varying different types of fear bought about insecurities in the community, which created tensions and conflicts. These tensions and conflicts were some of the motivating factors, which caused the people of the community to blame one another for different crimes and resulted in a complete lack of trust in the community. All of this contributed to the persecution and deaths of innocent people and a community which was once, so close, became fragmented.

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Kylie Garcia

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