The Crucible written by Arthur Miller is a play that takes place in the sixteen nineties during the famous but tragic witch trials. Reverend Hale who is a minister and an expert of the demonic arts and witchcraft is sent from East Hanover to Salem where there is a spreading fear of witchcraft. When Hale arrives in Salem he finds the entire town in total chaos. At the beginning Hale is adamant in believing that theyre where witches and that nothing but good could come of his being there. Near the end when the truth has been exposed, Hale with so much blood on his head pleads : I come to do the Devils work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves. There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head! (Miller,131).
For Reverend Hale the witch hunt in Salem is the scene of a moral journey as he eventually makes a complete turn around in thoughts and beliefs as he is forced to see certain realities. At the start of Reverend Hales metamorphosis he is so sure of himself and of his belief, in witches, that he even inadvertently eases their lying. At this point when he meets Parris and the girls who have been bewitched he encourages them to talk about their being bewitched, and puts some words into their mouths, but he only does this because he really believes in witches, and believes the girls stories. This back fires however, and helps the girls with their lies. Soon after the trials begin Hale begins to have doubts in the girls. Hale has been seeing respectable people being charged, and this has flickered a doubt in his mind. After a few days of court Hale visits several households without the courts authority, and goes to John Proctors house to have a few words with John and his wife . At the end of the talks Proctor states : And why not, if they must hang for denying it? There are them that will swear to anything before theyll hang ; have you never thought of that? (69).
Hale knows that people will confess to anything to avoid being hanged, and he is deeply troubled when he learns of Abigails motifs for revenge. Respected people have told Hale that the trials are non-sense. He has tried to find holes in these peoples reasoning, so he can be reassured he hasnt made a big mistake in his aiding of the conviction of these people, but their reasoning is completely logical. Hale becomes more aware of the truth near the end of Act II, when Giles Corey and Francis Nurse report that their wives have been taken away. Reverend Hale is surprised, but disturbed by the news because he thought of Rebecca as surely being innocent when he met her. He says that, if Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothings left to stop the whole greenworld from burning (71). Hale then tries to explain her arrest by saying (in great pain) : Man remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in Heaven (71).
At this point Hale hopes that the trials are legitimate, and tries to account for unusual happenings, but things just do not add up. The nail is put in the coffin in terms of Hale realizing the truth when Mary Warren appears at the court to testify against Abigail and the other girls who are making up stories. After Marys testimony, and Proctors eventual confession of lechery, Hale, who has watched the proceedings with increasing frustration, finally must listen to his conscience, and he quits the court. Here is the passage where Hale finally comes to his senses and quits the court, after proctor has been charged with witchery. Danforth: Marshal ! take him and Corey with him to the jail!
Hale, starting across to the door :I denounce these proceedings! Proctor : You are pulling Heaven down and raising up a whore! Hale : I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court! He slams the door to the outside behind him. Danforth, calling to him in a fury : Mr. Hale! Mr. Hale! (119-120)At this point the truth is evident. Hale cannot deny his previous errors of judgment anymore. The reader is aware of Hales 180 degree turn of ideas at the end of the play when Hale, is pleading with the prisoners, who will be hung, to confess because he has so much blood on his head.
Every time Hale sees one of these realities his original surety lessens until he must consider the fact that the whole thing may have been a hoax, and finally when he realizes the truth it is too late to do anything about it. Hales character is still good. He is not like Danforth or Hawthorne who see the truth but do not want to be juste to save their reputations. Hale isnt afraid of admitting that the deaths will be his fault. He knows he made a mistake and tries to straighten things out because he feels guilty. Hales moral journey also helps put in context the fact that the judges opinions were unchangeable even with a witch expert to argue them, and also helps emphasize the fact that it was so evident that these people were innocent that even Hale who was so sure of himself, had a complete change of ideas