Reverend Hale is a key character in The Crucible, Arthur Miller’s play about the Salem witch trials. Hale is a young clergyman who comes to Salem in an effort to root out witchcraft and save the souls of Salem’s citizens. He quickly becomes caught up in the hysteria of the trials, and plays a pivotal role in the conviction and execution of several Salem residents accused of witchcraft.
Reverend Hale’s character undergoes a dramatic transformation over the course of the play. When he first arrives in Salem, he is confident in his ability to find and punish witches. He is zealous in his quest to save Salem from the devil, and is eager to see justice done.
However, as the trials progress and innocent people are convicted and executed, Hale begins to doubt the righteousness of the proceedings. He grows increasingly troubled and frustrated, culminating in his decision to denounce the trials and leave Salem.
Reverend Hale is ultimately a tragic figure, whose well-intentioned actions end up causing great harm. His character highlights the dangers of blindly following authority, and serves as a cautionary tale about the misuse of power.
In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Reverend Hale becomes a more cynical madman as he goes through the play. He comes to Salem full of confidence in his conviction that witches exist there. Reverend Hale begins to realize how ridiculous and untrue the girl’s accusations became as the inquiries progressed. Reverend Hale loses faith in witchcraft and changes into a more jaded person over a short period of time.
Reverend Hale’s change in character is shown through his interactions with the people of Salem, his language, and his actions. Reverend Hale’s interactions with the people of Salem show just how much he has changed. In the beginning of the play, Reverend Hale is very eager to find witches in Salem. He talks to Tituba, one of the accused witches, and tries to get her to confess.
However, Tituba refuses to give in and Reverend Hale gets angry. He yells at her, saying “Confess yourself to Heaven! It will come easy if you are innocent! If not-” (Miller 37). Reverend Hale is so sure that Tituba is guilty that he threatens her with violence if she does not confess.
However, later on in the play, Reverend Hale has a very different interaction with Tituba. When he is talking to John Proctor, one of the accused witches, Reverend Hale says “I have no good word to say for myself tonight. I am sick at heart, Mr. Proctor” (Miller 101). Here, Reverend Hale is admitting that he was wrong about Tituba and Salem Witch Trials in general. He is no longer the confident man who was sure of himself, but rather a broken man who is filled with regret.
Reverend Hale’s language also changes throughout the play to reflect his change in character. In the beginning of The Crucible, Reverend Hale speaks in very formal language. For example, when he is talking to the girls about their accusations, he says “It is my duty to add what weight I may to Mr. Danforth’s argument, and yet I hesitate. For I have seen such proof of the depth of Satan’s power in this very room that I can no longer recommend any but fire for Salem” (Miller 41).
Reverend Hale is so sure of himself and his beliefs that he does not hesitate to recommend Salem use fire to get rid of the witches. However, later on in the play, Reverend Hale’s language changes to reflect his change in character. When he is talking to John Proctor about the trials, he says “I am no angel.
In Act I, Hale is a prideful and learned clergyman who wants to eradicate all forms of witchcraft in Salem. “His objective is light, goodness, and its preservation” (Miller 30) In Act 1, Hale is a pompous and educated man who seeks to end all types of witchcraft in Salem. His trip to Salem is his chance to put his new abilities to the test.
He Salem to investigate claims of witchcraft and to hopefully catch some witches. Reverend Hale is also very judgmental. In Act 1, he looks down on John Proctor because he is not a member of the church. He says, “I’ll tell you what’s walking Salem- fear, fear walks Salem” (Miller 36). This means that Hale believes that anyone who is not a part of the church is automatically evil and should be feared. However, as the play goes on, Reverend Hale begins to realize that Salem is not as black and white as he thought it was.
He starts to question the witch trials and whether or not they are fair. In Act 3, he says, “I am not sure, Mr. Proctor, that I may believe you” (Miller 103). This shows that Hale is starting to doubt whether or not the Salem witch trials are actually finding witches or if they are just accusing innocent people.
Reverend Hale also begins to feel sympathy for the accused witches. In Act 3, he pleads with Elizabeth Proctor to convince her husband John to confess to witchcraft and save himself from being hanged. He says, “Mr. Proctor, your wife must know- tell her what she must do” (Miller 104). This shows that Hale is beginning to see the accused witches as human beings who deserve sympathy and compassion, instead of seeing them as monsters who need to be destroyed.
By the end of the play, Reverend Hale is a changed man. He has gone from being a pompous witch hunter to someone who is questioning the Salem witch trials and sympathizing with the accused witches. This change in character shows that Miller is trying to say that even the most closed-minded people can change their views if they are willing to listen and learn.
Hale is convinced that there are witches in Salem, and he tells the people of Salem, “No one may any longer doubt the supernatural powers of the dark gathered in a horrible assault on this community” (Miller 64). He even goes as far as to falsely accuse Tituba of witchcraft.
Tituba’s first action after being attacked was not to look for evidence against her but rather to listen to Abigail’s statement without regard for Tituba’s side of the tale. Hale is so engrossed with the concept of witches that he does not think about whether or not it might be a supernatural force wreaking havoc in Salem.
Salem is in such a delicate state, that any small thing could set it off, and Reverend Hale is too focused on the idea of witches to see that. When John Proctor tells him about Abigail and the girls faking their fits, he refuses to believe it at first. Even when presented with clear evidence, Hale still tries to find an excuse for the girls’ behaviour. It is not until later in the play when Hale has seen too much violence and death that he begins to question his initial beliefs.
He starts to see that Salem is tearing itself apart and that the witch trials are causing more harm than good. By the end of the play, Reverend Hale is no longer the same confident man who arrived in Salem at the beginning. He has seen the Salem witch trials for what they really are – a travesty of justice that has led to nothing but death and destruction.
Reverend Hale is a key character in The Crucible because he represents the change that Salem goes through during the course of the play. At the beginning, Salem is a place full of fear and suspicion, where people are quick to accuse others of witchcraft. By the end, Salem is a place of reason and logic, where people are able to see the errors of their ways. Reverend Hale is emblematic of this change, as he starts out as a firm believer in witches but ends up realizing the truth about Salem.