Social Breakdown In The Crucible Analysis Essay
Danforth’s utter naivety and complete lack of ability to see what is really happening becomes more apparent and increases our frustration with him throughout the scene. For instance, when Elizabeth Proctor is questioned, it is obvious to Hale what has happened; Elizabeth has lied to save her husband. Danforth cannot see this – he says, with apparent conviction, “She spoke nothing of lechery, and this man has lied! ” This shows that he is also rather biased, whether it is intentional on his part or not.
His use of the word “lechery” may well have provoked Elizabeth into lying. Up until the moment when she is directly asked, “is your husband a lecher? ” she hesitates but as soon as he puts the question bluntly to her she lies. This is because she associates the word ‘lecher’ with a bad person and she cannot see, nor wishes anyone else to see her husband as a bad person and so she lies to save his name.
Although Danforth may not have done this deliberately, we as the audience can see his biased view.
He cannot believe that the girls have lied, but he instantly proclaims Proctor, and those who say they have not committed the crime of witchcraft, to be liars. To him the girls are young innocent children; this is shown in the way he addresses Abigail as ‘child’ even after Proctor has claimed to have slept with her. As far as Danforth is concerned, Elizabeth spoke true and therefore Abigail is innocent of all charges. The scene also increases our frustration with Parris.
He is very annoying throughout the scene, interjecting with such comments as “This man is – ” and “Your Honour, this – “. However, the audience does gain a sense of satisfaction when Danforth silences him (repeatedly). His interjections also make the audience more aware of how much of what is said is motivated by his own self-interest. The audience’s frustration with Danforth is also increased by his failing to see this. In this scene, out sympathy for Proctor and Elizabeth is increased.
Proctor’s desperate actions, which he hopes will “cast away his good name” and yet save his wife, show how much he loves her, and in return her lying to “save [his] name” shows that she loves him. They both find great difficulty in doing these things, which is emphasised by Proctor in the fact that he tries to keep his affair with Abigail secret until he cannot see any other way of winning his case. Elizabeth’s stage directions whilst she’s being questioned show her nervousness through hesitation “starting to glance at Proctor”. This difficulty they go through for each other shows the extent of their love.
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