Hale Crucible Essay Research Paper John Hale

Hale: Crucible Essay, Research Paper

John Hale is the minister of Beverly, which has been summoned to Salem to discover and

extinguish supposed witchcraft in the town of Salem, Mass. in the colonial period. Hale

overgoes a gradual change of character and belief as the play unfolds. As a dynamic

character? Though a gradual change it is, the change drastically changes his views and

ideas of what is God’s will and where his priorities lie.

The end of Act One exhibits the audience a zealous priest, Reverend John Hale,

looking for evidence of witchcraft, real or make believe. Most convenient for Hale the

town of Salem has more than enough evidence for him to become ecstatic about.

Although he does express that, “We can not look to superstition in this. The Devil is

precise; the marks of his presence are as definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I

shall not precede unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of hell

upon her” (38), it is a mere empty promise, since before the ending of Act One he already

mentally decides Salem is plagued with witchcraft, with or without concrete evidence to

support his allegation. Hale uses such scant evidence as Putnam’s death of her first seven

children and Giles’ wife reading of strange books which keep him from reciting the Lord’s

prayer. Ironically, he encounters, Tituba, after hearing that this Barbados slave had been

practicing voodoo with the afflicted girls. After Hale puts immense pressure on Tituba to

proclaim herself a witch Hale is able to manipulate Tituba to claim that she had used

witchcraft on the girls. After declaring herself a witch she accuses the names of four

honest and innocent women, thus starting the chain affect of accused witches accusing

others of witchcraft, that soon would follow. So Hale, single-handedly, who was

manipulated by Abigail’s lies and false fits, started the entire conflict with his aggressive

technique to propel Tituba to confess to association with the devil, which in truth had

never covenanted.

At the time in Act Two that Hale enters there is a presence of guilt about him,

which foretells what his mission in the Proctor’s house is, to question Elizabeth on the

suspicion of practicing witchcraft on Abigail Williams. So, to begin to further his case in

witchcraft he confronts Mr. Proctor about his lack of attendance to church and about one

of his children not being baptized. Proctor answers both of these question with his

disapproval of greed Rev. Parris. Hale even demands to hear the Lord’s ten

commandments form both Mr. and Mrs. Proctor. Hale scrutinizes and probes the

Proctors the entire visit for any form of evidence that he could associate with the traits of

a witch. That all changes though, something is told to Hale that blows his mind,

something he doesn’t scarcely believe at first, that Abigail Willaims told, to Proctor’s face,

that there was no such act of witchcraft in Salem, whatsoever. Proctor defends his

statement by questioning Hale many times over which in response Hale exclaims that

Proctor’s notion was nonsense since Hale himself conducted the examinations with the

accused, “There are them that will swear to anything before they’ll hang; have you ever

though of that?” (69). Then this quote follows, “Hale: I-I have indeed. It is his own

suspicion, but he resists it.” (69). This remark and even more so this hesitation by Hale

reveals that at this point Hale has already started to question his own actions, but is not

yet at the point of knowing if this “witchcraft” is actually just a lofty act by the

self-proclaimed tortured children. After this insertion Hale begins to ask both Mrs. and

Mr. Proctor if they believe in the existence of witches. Why? Because Hale wants to

make sure his accusations and examinations are believed to be proper in accordance to

what is justifiable in the eyes of fellow townsfolk. A point comes near the end of Act Two

that the audience learns that Goody Nurse, the kindest, most saint-like of Salem, has been

taken into custody under warrant of witchcraft. This is the part where the audience really

starts to see a difference in Hale’s attitude and belief. For example, during the

conversation with Mr. Nurse concerning Rebecca’s imprisonment, “ Hale, turns from

Francis, deeply troubled: …Let you rest upon the Justice of the court…” (71), “Hale,

pleading: …There is a misty plot afoot…”, (71) and “Hale, in great pain: …until an hour

before the devil fell, God thought him beautiful in heaven.” (71). All these quotes

magnify, in speech, that Hale is still confident in his belief of the justice of the court, but

since this is a play and not a novel, his actions shown on stage assert indecision and

hesitation. Another very important factor in Hale learning the truth is John Proctor

himself. While Elizabeth is being accused and arrested he repeatedly and aggressively

challenges Hale’s belief, slowly destroying Hale’s faith in the holiness of the court. “Hale:

Proctor if she is innocent the court– Proctor: If she is innocent! Why do you never

wonder if Parris be innocent or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now? I’ll tell you

what’s walking Salem– vengeance is walking Salem. We are what we always were in

Salem, but now the little crazy children are jangling the keys of the kingdom, and common

vengeance writes the law! This warrant’s vengeance! I’ll not give my wife to

vengeance!” ( 77 ). This single comprehensive quotation summarizes the entire argument

Proctor establishes for Hale, the principal Hale believes at the end of the Act, that the girls

are not bewitched and are most definitely lying. What finally breaks his defense is

Proctor’s exclamation to Hale, “ Proctor, to Hale, ready to break him: Will you see her

taken? Hale: Proctor the court is– Proctor: Pontius Pilate! God will not let you wash

your hands of this!” (77),. This entire experience is Hale’s Catharsis.

Hale is in the courtroom throughout Act Three, but the audience hears and sees

little from him besides a few one line insertions and a heated argument with Danforth

towards the end. With such wee evidence someone would think that it might be difficult

to learn much with so little to go by? The opposite is true, the entirety of Act Three

involves Giles and Proctor trying to confront the court and free the innocent, and anything

Hale says, are does, is in the support of them. Danforth, Parris and Hawthorne are, in a

black and white sense, on one side while Giles, Proctor, and Hale are on another. Hale in

defense of Proctor, “ Danforth: Plow on Sunday! Proctor: I-I have once or twice

plowed on Sunday. I have three children, sir, and until last year my land gave little. Hale:

Your Honor, I cannot think you may judge the man on such evidence.” (91). Hale in

defense of Francis, “Francis: Mr. Danforth, I gave them all my word no harm would come

to them for signing this [ The petition of belief in innocence of Rebecca and Elizabeth ].

Parris: This is a clear attack upon the court! Hale, to Parris: Is every defense an attack

upon the court? Can no one–?”. (94). In both of incidents Hale steps directly into the

center of the examination and supports the defendants in accordance with his new belief,

that the court is in the wrong. These statements are all inferior compared to the time in

Act Three that he confronts Danforth on the court’s conduct and while admitting his own

guilt in the due process, “Hale: Excellency, I have signed seventy-two death warrants; I

am a minister of the Lord and I dare not take a life without there be proof so immaculate

no slightest qualm of conscience may doubt it. Danforth: Mr. Hale, you surely do not

doubt my justice. Hale: I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca Nurse, your

honor. I’ll not conceal it my hand shakes yet as with a wound!… Danforth: Mr. Hale,

believe me; for a man of such terrible learning you are most bewildered–I hope you will

forgive me…. Hale: But this child claims the girls are not truthful, and if you are not–

Danforth: That is precisely what I am about to consider, sir. What more you ask me?

Unless you doubt my probity? Hale, defeated: I surly do not sir. Let you consider it,

then.” (100). This plea Hale presents Danforth defends what Proctor is about to do. Hale

knows if Proctor presents Mary’s testimony before the court the judges would manipulate

the testimony into something of a negative affect toward Proctor and the others accused;

the reason for Hale wanting a lawyer present. Then ,what finally forces Hale to “condemn

the proceedings of the court”, is Mary’s thrice reversal of her story which now states that

Proctor is a wizard and forced her to testify against Abigail in the others by sending his

spirit. “Hale: Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another is

condemned! I may shut my conscience to it no more– private vengeance is working

through this testimony! From the beginning this man has struck me true. By my oath to

heaven, I believe him now, and I pray you call back his wife before–

Danforth: She spoke nothing of lechery, and this man has lied! [about Proctor and

Abigail’s adultery]. Hale: I believe him! Pointing at Abigail: This girl has always struck

me false! She has–[then interrupted by Abigail’s chanting].” (114). This is when Hale

fully confesses that the people he has condemned to death were probably all innocent.

After Proctor is accused as a wizard by Mary is when Hale finally storms out of the

courtroom and turns to trying to save the lives of the ones accused of witchcraft in Act


Act Four is the conclusion, the final phase of his dynamic characterization. In this

act not only does Hale state he believes that the hysteria is false but he acts on this belief

by attempting to help the accused. The audience discovers Hale in the prison, where all

the accused are being held, along with Parris, who is also now trying to save the

condemned, trying to convince the accused to save their lives by confessing to witchcraft.

“Hale: Excellency, there are orphans wandering the streets from house to house;

abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere,

and no man knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life…” (130), this outake simply and

directly affirms what Hale views as the consequences of his grievous actions, which is the

motivation for his efforts. Although Hale tries to lessen the harshness of his previous sins,

his method to attempt this is a sin in itself which in this quote he explains to Elizabeth in

jail, “Hale: …I have sought a Christian way, for damnation’s doubled on a minister who

counsels men to lie” (132). In the end, in trying to save John Proctor’s life by convincing

Elizabeth to persuade John to confess to save his life, he admits what he did wrong, “Hale:

Let you not mistook your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a

bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I

brought, and what I touched with my great faith, blood flowed up.” (132). The latter half

of this quote displays an entire different theme, “…life is God’s most precise gift; no

principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, women, prevail upon

your husband to confess. Let him give his lie. Quail not before God’s judgment in this,

for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride.” (132).

This plea is given with guilt. Hale knows he could, and should, have saved Proctor in the

beginning, thus putting more pressure on Hale to save John Proctor’s life now, no matter

the cost. But, atlas, this does not happen, and when Hale finds the decision of Proctor’s

to forgo confession and sacrifice his life for the good of his name he becomes bewildered

with confusion. “Hale: Woman [Elizabeth] plead with him! He starts to rush out the

door and then goes back to her. Woman! It is pride, it is vanity. …He drops to his knees.

…What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his

truth?” (145). This is where the audience can now sympathize with poor Rev. Hale. He

does not understand how one could not lie to save his one life, even if it were confession

to witchcraft. Hale will have to live the rest of his natural life knowing that he had a major

part in the deaths of so many innocent people.

Does Hale, as a dynamic character, truly change for the better? Does Hale, as a

dynamic character, really become more priest-like in his attempt to correct his previous

sins? Even if his methods of trying to protect the innocent are sinful, his motive to have

them saved is absolutely genuine. In the beginning Reverend Hale comes into Salem

feverent, in his desire to discover witchcraft. At that point Hale indeed did believe he was

with covenation with justice and the will of God. Then onto Act Two, we discover an

even more aggressive man, one who has already signed eleven warrants of arrest which he

approved of on the testimony of a few mere schoolgirls as the only form of evidence. Not

until he himself witnesses Elizabeth Proctor be taken into custody, his catharsis, on such

scant spectral evidence does he begin to believe that hysteria and vengeance are actually

all that is taking place and that he is also blinded by the lies of Abigail Williams. Act

Three, Hale is now a true believer in the court being unjust, but not yet a fully devotee to

the redemption of the innocent. His heart and mind lay in the correct place by leaving the

court but has not taken the next step to complete transformation by taking action. The

audience sees a complete different man, a man who sees his previous sins for what they

truly are in Act Four. A man who needs to assist those he has condemned to death. A

man with a moral obligation to protect those lives that he has put into jeopardy with his

previous zealous behavior. …Yes. Yes, there is a immense positive change in Hale from

the beginning of the play to the end. Yes, Rev


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