Please translate Hale's speech in Act IV of Arthur Miller's The Crucible for better understanding. Hale [continuing to Elizabeth]: Let you not mistake your duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up. Beware, Goody Proctor - cleave to no faith when faith brings blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie. Quail not before God's judgement in this, for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride. Will you plead with him? I cannot think he will listen to another.

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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.


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Hale's speech reflects some of the fundamental contradictions both within Salem and in his own frame of thought.  The speech/ quotation is divided into a couple of distinct parts.  The first part is where Hale himself admits to being "duped" by the people of Salem.  Hale speaks to Elizabeth about how he sincerely sought to come to Salem "to do good."  He believed that his counsel was needed to eradicate the issue of witches that plagued the good people of the town.  In the quote, Hale speaks to being manipulated and used by those in the position of power.  Hale recognized that he was being used to target individuals and to marginalize innocent people.  It is here where his line of "cleave to no faith when faith brings blood" enters.  This quote means that any religion that is used to target and isolate in causing more suffering ceases to be a religion.  In a way, the first part of the quote reflects that Hale feels he was led astray.

In the second part, Hale argues that he can find a way to both salvation for his own part in the miscarriage of justice and in the redemption of individuals. Hale now believes that the greatest gift that God gives to his people is the gift of life.  In working with the accused to confess to something that both they and he know are not true, Hale argues that God's greatest gift is upheld.  It is here where Hale tries to work on Elizabeth to get John to confess.  Hale dismisses the idea that this is lying for "God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away from pride."  Hale's argument to Elizabeth is that she has a spiritual obligation to get her husband to confess in order to uphold God's greatest gift of life.  The issue of lying is secondary to this "gift" of life.

There are some interesting elements to Hale's character revealed here.  On one hand, Hale is not a bad guy.  He really wants these people to live and understands that what happened in Salem was far from justice  He admits his role in what happened and seeks to right that which is wrong.  Yet, Hale still views the interpretation of religion in a narrow light, the same light that was manipulated by those in the position of power to persecute.  Hale believes that "God's greatest gift" is life.  To this end, he does not mind what is done in this name.  It is here where Hale is mistaken.  He does not understand that to merely confess in Salem is not enough.  The authorities are only happy when a confession follows a complete reversal and the identification of more names.  In other words, the only way to escape from sin is to sin more by lying and then sin even more by involving others who may or may not be guilty.  Hale does not see this, but rather focuses on the gift of life only.  Another point should be made here in that Hale is operating out of self- interest.  He seeks to assuage his own guilt and his own responsibility in what happened.  In this, Hale wants to save lives so that his own soul's guilt can be minimized.

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