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What does Hale mean when he says, "Why, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil's...

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bgambino | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 22, 2008 at 6:33 AM via web

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What does Hale mean when he says, "Why, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil's work...Can you not see the blood on my head!"

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pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted September 22, 2008 at 7:49 AM (Answer #1)

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Here is the full quote for reference:

"Why, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil's work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves (his sarcasm collapses)There is blood on my head. Can you not see the blood on my head!"

Reverend Hale has returned to Salem at this point in the play, Act IV.  He feels a great deal of guilt about having contributed to the hysteria in Salem regarding the accusations of witchcraft.

He specifically returns to Salem to convince the remaining accused to confess, and thus save their lives.  He feels the weight of those who have already been executed on his own head.  He feels a deep responsibility for his contribution to the deaths of others.

The blood he refers to is the blood of the innocent who have been put to death.  

Reverend Hale goes through a transformation in the play, at first enjoying his role as authority on witches, but then he feels great remorse and guilt due to the lengths the people in Salem go to rid their town of "witches."   

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kboyle | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 24, 2013 at 2:11 PM (Answer #2)

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Hale has come to believe that the accused are innocent. Lying, or "bearing false witness" was a sin that condemned to hell. He is, however, telling the accused to lie and say that they are witches to save their souls. By doing so, he is giving his soul, and theirs, to the devil.

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