How do the characteristics of Rev. John Hale and Rev. Samuel Parris differ in Act III specifically?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Act III reveals some basic differences in both Reverends.  Hale is shown to be one who begins to questions what is happening in Salem.  When he explains to Danforth how he possesses ambivalence about signing Rebecca Nurse's death sentence as well as how he begins to openly object to how Abigail and the girls are manipulating their ability to lauch accusations, there is a revelation of how Hale is losing faith in the Salem justice system.  This is in fairly stark opposition to Parris.  As Hale's doubt increases, Parris' zeal also increases.  He is of the mindset that any questioning of the process results in a questioning of his own position, helping to explain his own sense of certainty in the system.  At the same time, Parris begins to see that Proctor's motivations are divergent, and in the midst of his moral and ethical anguish, there lies an opportunity to silence one of Parris' most vociferous critics once and for all.  Parris recognizes this and starts to increase the poison in the trials and in the Act, itself, in order to consolidate his own power and strengthen his own position.  Whereas Parris sees a self- serving opportunity present, Hale sees hypocrisy evident, and this helps to explain why both Reverends proceed in different directions and trajectories in Act III.

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