Truth Danforth is a very authoritative character throughout the play and is often the one to regain order in times of chaos. He is a key character in the play, used by Miller to engage the audience. As he begins to believe Mary Warren that it was all lies, it gives the audience hope, and builds up the suspense leaving the audience wanting to know what will happen next. From the very beginning of the act it is clear that due to the respect he has managed to gain and his high position in the court he is very much in control over the situation and the people.
“(Looking directly at Giles): Who is this man? ” as soon as he says this order is brought to the court and all the previously arguing members fall silent. This demonstrates his power and his respected position. Before he spoke, it was chaos as Giles Hale and Herrick were both fighting to be heard.
Danforth has the ability to make everyone listen to him and therefore this helps him keep control over the situation. This short sentence shows his direct manner of speaking and his authority within the court.
He is often concise with his speech in order to gain as much direct information as possible; this manner of speech and the speed of the person’s reply show his experience in his job. The stage directions by Miller “(Looking directly at Giles)” portray Danforth to the audience as an intimidating character. When performed it intensifies the atmosphere and show that Danforth is not someone who is easily scared.
He always remains composed. Often Danforth’s lines show the hysteria and irrationality of the situation.
They are often so far from the truth that they show the audience how far this lie about witchcraft has been taken. “Now, by God’s grace, the shining sun is up” this irony shows the extent of Abigail and the girl’s power, and how they have managed to fool even the most powerful within the court. Miller uses him as contrast and to show the audience how wrong they all are. Danforth is very clever in his interrogation of people and often turns their own words against them, “there is a prodigious guilt in the country. Are you afraid to be questioned here?” this tactic shows his intimidating nature and he often does this to reassert his authority, “Mr Hale, you surely do not doubt my justice” He never lets any of the others forget who is in control and uses the fear in ithers against them. Due to his high position in the court and the current situation he is feared by most of the people. This gives him an advantage when questioning others. When Mary finally admits that everything is pretence. Everyone is thrown; Danforth, for the first time does not know what to say and loses his composure, “Ah?
And the other girls? Susanna Wallcott, and the others? They are also pretending? ” Danforth suddenly realises that he could be wrong this whole time and that all the people he has condemned to be hung are innocent. The first word of the sentence “Ah? ” shows just how shocked he is, he usually has very well structured sentences and knows exactly what he is going to say, this is the first and one of the only times we see him not quite knowing what to say next. His other sentences are incomplete and he no longer speaks in full sentences.
His questions sound weak and no longer intimidating and powerful as they usually are. Although his tone here is very different he very quickly gains back his original composure and power, “Indeed not, but it strike hard upon me that she will dare to come here with such a tale” He gives the audience hope that the truth will be revealed and that all the innocent people will be released. With this sudden change of tone Miler demonstrates that even the clever and experienced of people never could have expected or predicted this.
When he questions Abigail about Mary’s claim, Miller’s stage directions subtly show us his doubts beginning to emerge, “(Pointing at Abigail, incredulously)” “(Shocked turning to Abigail)” “(He studies Abigail for a moment then). Suddenly all his attention has been turned to Abigail, he does not know who to believe but he is beginning to see through Abigail’s lies. Through careful study of Abigail’s body language he attempts to gain the truth from them.
But as the play progresses, the audience slowly see that their hope of a happy ending is almost lose. Danforth is very patronising towards Abigail, “Child I would have you consider it –” By using the word Child” to address Abigail he is showing her that he is the one in power. He uses this method to re-establish his control and his high-authority. This word is also used by Miller to show that Danforth cannot see the evil within Abigail, and that he still sees her as an innocent child.
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