In The Crucible, what does Proctor mean by saying that Hale is a broken minister?

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

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In the context of the play, the religious leaders are attributed with power only in conjuction with moral authority. Hale is called a "broken minister" because he loses his moral authority in the eyes of John Proctor when he acts against his conscience. 

Parris and Hale are each characterized as being devoid moral power by John Proctor, the figure who is essentially the moral authority of the play. 

For Proctor, Hale loses his moral authority when he is shown evidence that clearly leads him to doubt in the truth of the claims of witchcraft made against both Elizabeth Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. At this point, despite his doubts and knowing what will happen to the women once they are accused and arrested Hale chooses to continue aligning himself with the court and the trials. 

A man who will not listen to his own sense of reason and justice has no moral authority, for Proctor, and so can have no real, religious power. 


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