Danforth “I can’t believe the news today, I can’t close my eyes, and make it go away.” -Hewson Judges, by their very nature, are used to protect and uphold certain societal values which the majority deems necessary. If you ignore the majority, then you become somewhat of a tyrant, if you ignore the minority, then you really step into danger. The minority is always the group that uprises, that is just a logical conclusion, seeing how if the majority wanted to uprise, it would have already occurred. Danforth decides that he can somehow sustain the outcry from the majority, and the anger of the minority. Danforth isn’t a judge, he is an executioner.
Piling stones atop an old man’s chest isn’t justice, its cruel and unusual punishment, that wouldn’t be done by a judge, it would be done by an executioner. How did such a man get to where he was? How can one run a sort of tyranny over the masses? What happens to Danforth’s personality when he gets his back against the wall. Danforth’s paradox of justice,’ and society, clashing violently. How could such a man get to where he was? How could someone pile stones on top of people, until their chest collapsed under the immense weight? Why would someone hang 27 people in less then two weeks? The answer is simple, in the name of God. When John Proctor yelled “I TELL YOU GOD IS DEAD,” perhaps he was speaking the simple truth.
We hear the same saying from the German philosopher Nietzsche in the 18th century. Perhaps they both speak the truth. What, if anything, if there even is one, would God say if he saw a hunt for societal witches? It is in the Bible, is it not? If its in the Bible, it must be true! There is logical reasoning for you; “Well, that’s 45 witches we’ve burned now, that ought to show God whose side we are on.” Quite simply, the only way Danforth became what he was was through the power of the masses, and unfortunately, their ignorance. Danforth is able to run a totalitarianism regime over the common folk of Salem, it doesn’t last long though. The people are immediately swept into the notion of witchcraft in the community, and they want to line their own pockets at others expense. The accusations are wild, illogical, and not sacrilegious.
It doesn’t take long before half of the community is exposed’ as witches. Danforth runs a tyranny simply by feeding off the emotions within the town. He is originally made out to be a hero, the society upholder of justice. The voice of God, the voice of the holy savior. He himself becomes swept up with the influence that the masses have over him, almost reminiscent of Adolf Hitler.
The trouble is when he goes too far, and even then society looks skeptical, and Danforth’s back is thrown against the wall. Once against the wall, you would think a prudent individual to step down, or at least settle down. Danforth does nothing of the sort. He tells he will hang thousands who come before him, because he is the finger of the lord. Danforth’s insanity simply grows when he realizes he has been made the fool of the community.
He apparently finds a way to remedy such a problem, hang everyone in the town. The only problem to foresee is that eventually all will be dead. It is blatantly obvious that Danforth is on God’s side, because, much like a modern day stop sign, the ten commandments are only suggestions. This is Danforth’s paradox, his justice is a black hole, nothing of value can escape from it. Danforth is one of the most interesting characters in this entire play. I feel he thinks himself the representative of the community, the law, and even God himself.
He run a sort of judging paradigm’ that will never be matched again in this country. He kills the innocent, and watches them die. He pays little attention to the few outcries from the community. He becomes so swept up into his own idealism, and rhetoric, that justice is darkened. The attempt to purify the community of witches, fails, of course. Because there will always be witches, they are the ones who accuse others. Those who are guilty question the evidence.
Danforth is the epitome of today’s society injustice.