In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, Hale tells Elizabeth that he arrived in town with the best of intentions, but those intentions have (in a manner of speaking) turned to dust. His faith has been met with the shedding of blood—in other words, people have died.
Hale insists that protecting life is the most sacred of God's laws.
Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift...
He insists there is no justification for the taking of a life, not even on principle, regardless of how "glorious" it is. Hale begs Elizabeth to beg her husband to confess, hoping to save his life. John Proctor has watched everything around him, the madness and the death, and has even been force to sign a confession—that he refuses to give to the court. Proctor cannot deal with lying in the confession, something he believes would be truly evil.
Proctor realizes that one’s name is everything.
He knows others will be forced to admit to what they have not done because of his confession, thus destroying their names as well. John sees Rebecca Nurse, one of the most decent women in the town, also accused of witchcraft. She will not admit to the lie and is sentenced to death. Proctor changes his mind, tears up the confession, and refuses to name anyone else—but for his noble deed, he is led off to die.
Hale wants Elizabeth to get John to confess, even though it is a lie. This lie, Hale believes, would be judged less harshly by God than the sin of letting someone throw his life way, especially in that John has done nothing but commit adultery. Hale knows that John will not be swayed by anything but Elizabeth's words, and so he fervently asks her to intercede with her husband to save his life, but she refuses. She believes that her husband's integrity is much greater than is the lie of a sin he has not committed.
[Proctor's] achievement is heralded by his wife, who says to Hale: “He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!”
She would rather he die on his terms than live on the terms of the lawmakers who would force a man to lie to save himself, rather than tell the truth, only to die.
Hale is devastated by her refusal, but certainly he is destroyed by the entire process, seeing good, honest God-fearing people punished for sins they have not committed. John and Rebecca Nurse are led off to be killed.