The Crucible

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Deputy Governor Danforth Character Analysis

A Deputy governor of Massachusetts who comes to Salem to preside over the witch trials. Though he's more open-minded and intelligent than Judge Hathorne, Danforth believes completely in his ability to distinguish truth from fiction. He views those who disagree with him as suspect. In fact, he suspects that anyone who disagrees with him might be working "against God."

Deputy Governor Danforth Quotes in The Crucible

The The Crucible quotes below are all either spoken by Deputy Governor Danforth or refer to Deputy Governor Danforth. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Crucible published in 2003.
Act 3 Quotes
Do you take it upon yourself to determine what this court shall believe and what it shall set aside? . . . .This is the highest court of the supreme government of this province, do you know it?
Related Characters: Deputy Governor Danforth (speaker), Giles Corey
Page Number: 79
Explanation and Analysis:

Act 3 opens with Giles Corey's interruption of the court proceedings. He wants Deputy Governor Danforth to know that he has evidence of his wife's innocence and that Putnam stands to benefit financially from the trials. In these rebukes of Corey's claims, Danforth asserts the court's power and derides Corey's attempts to provide evidence.

Here, in the dangerous and self-righteous Danforth's first appearance in the play, the corruption of the court is instantly apparent. Danforth refuses to listen to testimonies that contradict the inevitable guilty verdicts. He will ultimately distort and dismantle any arguments that the accusers should be suspected of giving false evidence of their own. Danforth believes that, as Deputy Governor of the state of Massachusetts, he has been selected by God to serve, and that his judgment is necessarily sanctified by heaven. Danforth stands as the ultimate representation of the Puritan ideology, which devalues any individual's beliefs in favor of placating (while also encouraging) the community's fears.

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You must understand, sir, that a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it, there be no road between. This is a sharp time, now, a precise time—we live no longer in the dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world. Now, by God's grace, the shining sun is up, and them that fear not light will surely praise it.
Related Characters: Deputy Governor Danforth (speaker), Francis Nurse
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

John Proctor and Francis Nurse have collected 91 signatures of landowners attesting to the good characters of their wives, as well as Martha Corey. Danforth decides that each of the landowners must be questioned, and Francis Nurse expresses despair, saying that he had promised the landowners that they would not be punished for signing the petition. In this speech, Danforth coolly reminds Nurse that the landowners will come to no harm if they have committed no sin.

Danforth speaks, ironically, of the great clarity with which the court now can view and judge the accused: all men and women are either good or evil, and the court can consider every person either with God or with the Devil. "The dusky afternoon when evil mixed itself with good and befuddled the world" has now past, according to Danforth. Even in the midst of the moral murk of the trials, Danforth asserts that telling good and evil apart has never been clearer or easier.

Danforth believes that the Puritan church and its court have been endowed with the great power to judge all people as God himself might. Danforth insists that only people who fear the light of God's grace could question the court's actions. In doing so, he stifles the voices of anyone who would speak out against the court, threatening them with condemnation: again, "a person is either with this court or he must be counted against it."

A fire, a fire is burning! I hear the boot of Lucifer, I see his filthy face! And it is my face, and yours, Danforth! For them that quail to bring men out of ignorance, as I have quailed, and as you quail now when you know in all your black hearts that this be fraud—God damns our kind especially, and we will burn, we will burn together!
Related Characters: John Proctor (speaker), Deputy Governor Danforth
Page Number: 111
Explanation and Analysis:

Danforth tells Mary Warren that she will be hanged unless she confesses so Mary turns on John Proctor, accusing him of having joined with the Devil. Proctor, prompted by Danforth to confess, instead declares that, "God is dead!" He then delivers this speech, in which he holds himself and all the men of the court accountable for giving into their fears, asserting that they will all burn in hell for these sins.

Proctor accuses himself of having failed to reveal the truth of Abigail's manipulations soon enough. He recognizes that Danforth and his followers know that Abigail is a fraud but that they give into hysteria, preferring to protect their reputations as interpreters of God's will rather than confess that they have erred in believing the girls' false testimonies.

Proctor, at last, locates the real "filthy face" of the Devil in Salem. It is found in all the villagers who fear to do the right thing and instead persecute and execute innocent individuals to preserve their power over the community. Danforth, of course, hears this speech as nothing but sacrilegious evidence that Proctor has indeed allied himself with the Devil.

Nowhere else in the play does the playwright's voice speak as strongly, ferociously condemning both the perpetrators of such self-serving, fear-mongering crimes and the bystanders who know the right thing to do but yet stand motionless.

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Deputy Governor Danforth Character Timeline in The Crucible

The timeline below shows where the character Deputy Governor Danforth appears in The Crucible. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 3
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Offstage, Judge Hathorne and Deputy Governor Danforth question Martha Corey. Giles Corey suddenly shouts that he has evidence that Thomas Putnam is... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Francis Nurse steps forward. Danforth says that he's only heard good things about Nurse's character and is amazed to see... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
...they have proof the girls are frauds. Proctor and Mary Warren come forward. Parris tells Danforth that Proctor causes "mischief," while Hale begs Danforth to hear the evidence. (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Proctor tells Danforth that Mary is prepared to testify she never saw any spirits. Parris shouts that Proctor... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth, shocked, considers whether to accept this testimony in court. Proctor assures him his evidence is... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
After a brief conference with Hathorne, Danforth informs Proctor that Elizabeth is pregnant, and therefore can't be hanged. He asks if Proctor... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth agrees to hear the evidence. First, Proctor shows him a petition signed by 91 landowners... (full context)
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Danforth decides the landowners must be questioned, which infuriates Nurse, who had promised them they would... (full context)
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
...he had his daughter charge a man with witchcraft in order to get his land. Danforth asks for the witness's name, but Corey refuses to give the name, for fear the... (full context)
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Proctor brings Mary forward. Hale says this argument is so important Danforth should let a lawyer present it to him. Danforth takes this as an insult to... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth questions Mary. She's frightened, but tells Danforth that the other girls are lying. The girls... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth seems to believe Mary and turns back to question Abigail, but Abigail suddenly shudders and... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth sends for Elizabeth, whom Proctor says will never lie. While they wait, Danforth instructs everyone... (full context)
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
...says he believes Proctor, and that Elizabeth was just trying to protect his reputation, but Danforth will not hear it. (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
...is attacking her. The girls start repeating whatever Mary says. Mary begs them to stop. Danforth threatens Mary that she'll hang unless she confesses. Mary runs to Abigail and says that... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Danforth demands that Proctor confess his allegiance to Hell. In response, Proctor says God is dead.... (full context)
Act 4
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Hathorne and Danforth enter. They wonder where Parris is and are troubled to learn from Herrick that he's... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Parris enters. To Danforth and Hathorne's questions about Hale, he answers that Hale has returned to try to convince... (full context)
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Danforth refuses to postpone the executions. He does say, however, that he's willing to work until... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth's position doesn't satisfy Parris. He's received threats regarding his part in the trials and fears... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Hale enters, demanding pardons for the convicted. Danforth says 12 others have already been hanged for the same charge; pardons for the remaining... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth does wonder, however, if they might be able to get Proctor to confess, since Elizabeth... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
...God's great gift, and no belief or religion should be followed if it harms life. Danforth and Hathorne disagree. Hale shouts that the confession must be a lie since Proctor is... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Proctor decides to confess, though he knows he shouldn't. When they learn the news, Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris are overjoyed. They ask Ezekiel Cheever to write down Proctor's confession. Proctor... (full context)
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth asks Proctor if he's seen Rebecca with the devil. Proctor says he hasn't. Danforth then... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth says the village must have proof. Proctor shouts that God has the proof, and that's... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Danforth says if the confession is a lie, then it is no confession at all. Proctor... (full context)