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    Proctor challenging Danforth’s authority Essay

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    Another piece of evidence that shows Miller’s attack on society is Mary Warren confessing to witch craft but later changing her story and denying being a witch. This is a dilemma because she was lying in the court and she had two choices; to say she was lying then or to say that she is lying now. If she confessed that she was lying before, then she had the possibility of getting hanged. But, if she said that she is lying now, then there is a possibility of her mistress Elizabeth being hanged. Her confession shows that she is lying now, to get herself in the clear. When she confessed that she is a witch the second time she also put the life of Elizabeth in danger, thus making her a bad person.

    This is an attack on the injustice in society because the innocent and good people are getting hanged or suffering for doing what they believe in and for what the bad people have done. The bad people are escaping the fatal consequences of their deeds which is just like the legal system of America in 1950s as portrayed in Miller’s play. This relates back to Arthur Miller’s personal experience because he believed that innocent people, such as himself, had to suffer due to the bad conduct of other people within society, such as McCarthy, just because McCarthy was able to condemn Miller he abused his high status.

    One more piece of evidence is Giles not naming the name of the informer, who told him about Thomas Putnam ordering his daughter to accuse their neighbours of witch craft, just for their land. This displays injustice because Giles is doing the loyal thing by not naming his informer’s name, knowing that his informer might get hanged. This incident is shown by Miller in his play because he wanted the audience to know how unjust the Salem society was.

    Giles is shown risking his own life to tell the truth and to help the society. Giles does this so that society can open its eyes and see what a charade this trial really is, but instead of being appreciated for helping he is instead punished, therefore showing irony. This relates back to Miller’s own experience because both Miller and Giles had to name names or face harsh consequences, but they both did the noble thing and kept the names to themselves.

    The final piece of evidence that indicates that there was injustice in Salem and in America in 1950s is the arrest of John Proctor at the end of Act Three. This event concerns John Proctor expressing his beliefs about the society of Salem. He believes that society is being ignorant and sinful. But what I think is really going on is that Miller is using John Proctor to challenge Salem, to ask us was the society of Salem able to accept the truth? This is what Proctor expresses in his speech. I believe that Miller did this to show the audience how society can react when it is being threatened by an independent thoughts such as Proctor’s.

    Society’s reaction makes an example out of those who think about opposing society. This links back to my point about injustice in society because the innocent people are risking their own lives to try and make society progress into a better one. However, instead of being appreciated for making society progress they are treated worse than prisoners these days because even prisoners are allowed to have their own views and beliefs.

    Miller, is once again relating back to his play, because Miller acted a lot like Proctor in his McCarthy trial by expressing his own beliefs. Like Proctor he was punished for doing the honourable thing which was to not give in to the authority. Therefore this shows us that society is just as unjust as it was in both Salem and America in 1950s. Society still punishes people for believing something different that threatens society and could possibly challenge authority as demonstrated in Salem.

    The court officials are consistently shown as weak and overbearing which emphasises the injustices in Salem and of McCarthy. This is portrayed by Miller’s play several times throughout Act Three. To begin with, one piece of evidence is the power Abigail has over Danforth which is shown on page eighty-seven. This event shows Abigail gaining power over Danforth by threatening him by saying that even he could get possessed by the devil.

    This shows that the court official is weak because Danforth hands his power over to Abigail, just so that he doesn’t draw the devil’s attention. Although, you can also argue that he handed all his power to Abigail in hope that she will purify Salem and can help execute all the people which have done bad deeds and save the innocent. But, this is ironic, because without Danforth’s knowledge, he is hurting the innocent and protecting the wicked.

    However, either way you look at it, Miller portrays Danforth as weak because of his lack of responsibility and power. This is shown by Danforth passing his authority and power so easily down to Abigail. This is once more attached to Miller’s own trial because he is contrasting Danforth with McCarthy to show the audience how much alike and unfair they were, by both their inequality and harsh punishment. This was probably another reason for Miller wanting to use his play as an attack on society.

    Also, the switch of perspective between Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale might be evidence to show how the court officials are weak. Parris was originally represented as a minister who doubted the arts of witchery and Hale was originally characterised as a minister who had strong beliefs about witch craft. But, as the play goes on the perspective of the two ministers is exchanged. Parris later on believes that there is such a thing as witchery and is caught up in his power. Finally he gets so caught up with looking strong that he condemns innocent people which therefore shows that he is weak.

    However, Hale on the other hand sees the errors of his ways and becomes stronger. We know this because Miller introduces this character carrying heavy books which he said represented his authority. However, in the last scenes you see him without any books which shows the audience that he has grown to a status that he does not need to rely on his books anymore therefore showing him being a stronger person. I believe that Miller picked these characters to contrast with each other to show the audience the more you go looking for strength and power the weaker you get, because Parris kept on searching for power and strength because he wanted to feel strong but ended up being weak and harming the innocent.

    In contrast, Hale was never searching for power only searching for justice and therefore this made him a stronger person. Miller is using his play to say that this and his own experience is alike because the way Parris acts and 1950s America is near enough the same. At first they probably wanted to set out and do good things to help their society, but then ended up getting caught up in their power. Then they started to harm decent people just so that they could remain looking strong even if it meant that they would really become weak.

    The reaction of people challenging Danforth’s power (and his closed mindedness) shows how weak he really is. We know this because on page sixty-nine Francis said that he ‘cannot be heard’ for three days to Danforth. This shows weakness in Danforth because Danforth is making judgment on his own opinion and not supported by evidence. I believe that he is doing this because he doesn’t want to get embarrassed in the court by saying he was wrong and looking weak, so he rather keep with his judgement and condemns innocent people in order to look strong. He won’t use the evidence given to him to make a fair judgement and this shows that he is weak and closed minded. Also, on page ninety-two when Proctor tries to offer a more suitable reason about why the girls are acting so childish Danforth tells him to

    ‘Be quiet’. This shows closed mindedness again, but it also shows Danforth’s reaction to people challenging his authority. This shows Proctor challenging Danforth’s authority because Danforth knows that if he goes with the story of the girls then he wouldn’t get embarrassed. When Proctor tries to change his perspective Danforth can only tell him to ‘Be quiet’ because he doesn’t want to listen because it might make him look small. Challenging what Danforth believes is also like challenging his authority which shows that he has quick reaction when someone challenges what he believes. This reveals Danforth’s weakness because when someone challenges him he tells them to be quiet which means that he is so weak that he won’t accept the truth.

    Once again this can be linked back Miller’s own experience, because he believed that McCarthy and Danforth are alike. Both are closed minded and don’t understand when someone is doing the loyal thing and don’t care what they are doing to people. When someone challenges their authority they have to use threats or just don’t listen.

    This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

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