How does Reverand Hale's interpretations of withcraft change during the course of the book from the beginning to the end?

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e-martin | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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When Hale arrives in Salem at the beginning of The Crucible, he attempts to express a measured and scientific attitude toward witchcraft. He says that he refuses to assume that Betty's case is one of witchcraft until he has examined the evidence.

However, Hale almost immediately becomes satisfied that witchcraft is afoot in Salem based on flimsy and coerced testimony from Tituba. Readers see clearly that Hale was prepared to be convinced by even the slightest scrap of evidence. 

Though Hale is a man of mercy, he is willing to do whatever is necessary to purge Salem of witchcraft once he is convinced that it is going on in Salem. 

Ultimately, Reverend Hale is convinced that the trial is a fraud and that the accussations of witchcraft were personal attacks based wholly on lies. 

Hale's willingness to change his mind demonstrates a humility, which Danforth claims is a weakness and unbecoming to the court. Yet it is Hale's personal strength and tendency toward honesty that forces him to accept the truth. Far from being honored for his honest impulses, Hale is driven away from the court and loses all authority. 

Despite this admirable trait, he lacks the moral conviction to act against proceedings that will condemn innocents to death.

The truth alone is not enough to lend Hale the potency of moral spirit required to alter the course of the court. 


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