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The Crucible: Who is Reverend John Hale
‘The Crucible’ is set in Salem Massachusetts 1692, the play begins
with Reverend Parris worrying about his daughter Betty who was dancing
in the woods with a number of girls from the village, a forbidden
activity in Puritan times. Parris and others question Abby about the
goings on, and it is put down to witchcraft. This was a common
occurrence as anything out of the ordinary was often blamed on
The crucible in not an exact true picture of America in the 1700’s but
can be seen as ‘symbolic of the paranoia about communism that pervaded
America in 1950’s’. One parallel that can clearly be seen is the one
of McCarthyism. This was very strong in the late 40’s to early 50’s
and is a form of justice. Accusations were often based on rumours and
half-truths. In The Crucible, it seems that the court knows the trials
outcome before it even starts, the officials in the court seem to have
a certain unwillingness to accept that the defendants are not guilty
of witch craft, this form of law wronged many innocents in the 40’s
In Act 1 Parris calls reverend Hale who is a self-claimed witchcraft
expert and has many a text on the subject ‘ weighted with authority’
and believes totally that he alone can solve the problem. When Hale
starts his investigation Abigail gives Tituba’s name as one of the
main players in this game and she lists people she has seen with the
In act II John goes to see the Proctor family to confront them about
their lack of attendance in court, while this meeting is going John
Proctor reveals to Hale about Abby’s lies in the court.
Act III is pivotal for Hale, this act is where his views change
dramatically and he doesn’t like what is allowed to happen in the
court with the girls, denounces the proceedings and quits the
In the Crucible, Hale is described as ‘a tight skinned, eager eyed
intellectual’, and is one of the most knowledgeable people in Salem on
witchcraft and thus is one of the main characters in the trial.
He is very confident in himself and has a somewhat informed knowledge
in witchcraft until that confidence is eroded by the fact that the
books are turning out to be wrong and the so called bewitched are not
behaving as the book says they should.
Once he sees that the defendants are not guilty of witchcraft, this is
when he loses his faith in the law. The lost confidence in the law
that he experiences is because even though the supposed witches are
not guilty they are being forced to admit to the crime in order to
save their lives.
Salem is what you would call a theocratic society, it was bound by
strict codes of behaviour and belief, where the Bible was slavishly
followed and any deviation would usually lead to prosecution. Moral
and state laws are in no way different to any individuals in the
community. Differing views would be stamped out and the sinner would
be seen as being a threat to society. The society must be kept pure
and if one person is seen to be threatening they will be dealt with.
Some see Salem as a very intolerant community and anything to keep
that purity will be done.
Hysteria plays a big part in the crucible, particularly in the Salem
community where people who thought they were living next to God loving
people, are actually committing what were seen to be the most awful
Characters in The Crucible seem to want to keep their reputations
intact, for example, Procter seeks to keep his good name from being
ruined. He even goes to the point as to not admitting a false
confession even with his life at stake “ I have given you my sole
leave me my name”. John is still fighting for his identity.
The behaviour of Hale in act 1 is of a confidant nature, he seems a
contently knowledgeable man and this can be seen when Betty had first
found to be ill. He is an outsider coming from another of town to see
this girl, he carries books ‘weighted with knowledge, and as soon as
he enters the room, he immediately stakes his claim to a position of
authority by the way he strolls confidently and eagerly over to they
bed where Betty is lying. However, he seems to be blinded by the
authority of the books and fails to go deeper into the subject. We can
see the impression of eagerness that Hale seems to give in the
conversation between Parris and hale where Parris states ‘My there
heavy’ and Hale replies ‘They must be there weighted with authority’.
Also very simple phrases such as ‘Ah’ and the way they are pronounced
show that he thinks he has a solution or a diagnosis to the problem,
others in the room would see this as comforting, and further place
their trust in him and his knowledge. As soon as he has opened his
book, he immediately backs up the theory of witch craft, ‘I cannot
tell if she is truly in the Devils grip we may have to rip and tear to
get her free’. This phrase shows his belief in witchcraft.
When Hale tries to wake Betty, he says ‘ Now Betty Dear will, you sit
up? Can you hear me I am John Hale minister of Beverly, I am here to
help you dear, this previous quote further strongly backs the idea of
his confidence and attitude in the belief that he not only know what
is wrong with Betty but can also help cure her too.
In act 2 when Hale arrives again he seems drawn, suggesting a major
difference in the character we met in Parris’s house. This guilt may
be his dawning realisation, that surely all the people cannot be
overtaken by witch craft,
We can see that Hale is torn between compassion and the strict laws of
the court in act 2, because he goes to see the proctors without the
courts authority ‘I come of my own, without the courts authority’.
This reveals that he has lost some faith in the court and the
proceedings, they are not to his standards. Hale is a stranger to the
community, wants to carry out some investigation of his own away from
the hysteria of the courtroom. When he is at the Proctor’s house, he
asks questions on the suspicion that Elizabeth and John are witches,
he doesn’t directly ask them this question by doing this he makes them
feel less threatened by him. Instead he asks questions such as ‘I note
that you are rarely in church?’ And ‘you have three children how come
only two are baptised? And finally he get John to recite the ten
commandments and when he fails to do so, Hales suspicion rises.
Before Hale leaves, John tells Hale that Abby had mentioned to John
that Betty being ill had no connection to witchcraft whatsever. This
sparked suggestions that people confessed to witchcraft and other
crimes so as not to hang. This is a big turning point in ‘The
Crucible’ and Hale can see the logic in this and maybe it is here
where he is beginning to change his mind?
Act 3 is where we see the major change in Hale, by the end of this act
almost all his views are changed, he can see the evil in the court and
shows this by denouncing the courts proceeding and walking away from
it altogether. This act is where the court case takes shape, it is
dramatised by the imitating of Mary by the group of girls who claim to
have had a spell cast on them. The girls continually repeat Mary in a
dramatic way. Also John Proctor confesses adultery and tells tails of
him and Abby, Elizabeth is called in to the court and tells the court
he is a faithful man. Their blatant difference in story gives the
opportunity for the court to accuse John of lying. Hale states that
‘it is a natural lie to tell’ in favour of Elizabeth. Salem was a very
puritan society and lived by rigid rules of God and for Hale to say it
is a natural lie is totally against all common beliefs. No longer able
to shut out his conscience indicates his anguish at the way witch
hunts are being carried out. Seen in this context we can see how much
Hales views have changed since act 1
Hale now having had a total change of heart believes John but he is
taken away in chains and Hale quits the court ‘’I denounce these
proceedings. I quit this court’
‘I quit this court’ is when Hale has lost all faith in the court and
show this by leaving the court altogether. This statement is the full
change of view of Hale in the crucible.
In this final act, Hale is totally fighting for John and his wife. He
visits people in Jail and gets them to confess in order to save their
lives. Hale gets Elizabeth to make John confess but he is defiant.
Hale is no fighting for what is right and just wants justice to be
done. His efforts fail and John is hanged.
Throughout the play Hale is one of the characters that changes the
most, we can see in act 1 that he is very confidant about his
knowledge and understanding of witchcraft but as the book develops he
becomes slightly subdued in his views because he starts to see the
evil in the court, this gains him more sympathy from the reader as the
play progresses. He realises that people in jail are mostly innocent
and all they have to do to alleviate the pain of hanging is confess.
From Act 1 to Act 4 he has a 360 degree viewpoint change from when he
arrives to quits the court at the end of act 3.
Looking at hale as a character reveals the misconception of justice
that people had of the law then and one man, Reverend John Hale,
changed his life for what is really right.
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"The Crucible: Who is Reverend John Hale." 123HelpMe.com. 16 Apr 2014