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John Hathorne (August 5, 1641 – May 10, 1717) was an executor in the Salem witch trials, and the only one who never repented of his actions. He was also a merchant in Salem, Massachusetts.

Hathorne was also the great-great-grandfather of Nathaniel Hawthorne, author of, among other things, The Scarlet Letter, who changed his surname slightly, leading some to believe that he was trying to dissociate himself from his ancestor. He published several works in 1830, however, under the Hathorne name. Others note he may have reassumed his family's ancestral name from Bray Berks England. There the name was spelled a number of different ways including Hauthorne, Hathorn, Hothorne and Hawthorne.

In fiction

In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Hathorne is portrayed as quite sadistic and, quite possibly, the most ignorant, antagonistic character besides Abigail Williams and her posse. Hathorne is the leading judge who continually denies witnesses any chance to redeem their names in court, as if he has predicted the outcome already. He is almost completely cynical and rarely shows emotion, with the exception of the finale, where he is almost joyful that John Proctor is going to confess his crimes.

Hathorne is the judge appointed by Satan at the trial in Stephen Vincent Benet's story "The Devil and Daniel Webster", where he is described as "a tall man, soberly clad in Puritan garb, with the burning gaze of the fanatic".

References








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