The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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Reverend Hale

What are character traits of Reverend Hale in The Crucible?

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When Reverend Hale first arrives in Salem, he has a great deal of confidence in his education and ability to root out evil.  He comes bearing heavy texts that he feels are "weighted with authority."  Hale seems to think highly of himself as the authority on witchcraft and devilry.  He believes that "tracking down" the Devil requires only "hard study," and he has devoted his life to this study.  He feels a lot of pride in his knowledge on this subject.  Later, in Act Four, Hale acknowledges his arrogance and pride, saying that he "came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion [...] and what [he] touched with [his] bright confidence, it died [...]."  By the day on which John Proctor has been sentenced to hang for witchcraft, Hale has realized his earlier errors in judgement.  He did not spot corruption in the court as quickly as he could have, and he did not speak up about his reservations about how the trials were progressing as early as he should have.  Hale does take responsibility for his mistakes, however, which is more than the other characters in a position of authority do.

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Reverend Hale is summoned to Salem because he is a well-respected minister and an expert in finding witchcraft.  He carries with him huge books that show the type of devils and demons involved in witchery.  He takes his job seriously, and he wants to get to the bottom of the accusations spoken by Abagail and the other girls.  At first, he is enthusiastic about his conclusions and believes that witchcraft does indeed exist in Salem.  He gets caught up in the hysteria; however, as the trial goes on and after interviewing John and Elizabeth Proctor, Hale begins to doubt the girls’ stories.  He begins to see motivates behind the community’s accusations.  At the end of the play, Hale has lost all confidence in the trial and judges.  He begs John Proctor to save himself by signing the declaration of witchcraft because Hale feels that God will forgive John for lying and saving his own life.

Hale’s main characteristics include a sense of fairness and practicality.  He is able to read people well, and is not easily duped.  He is a sincere man who believes in the innocence of others.  Although proving witchcraft would make him well-known or famous, he does not have his self-interests in mind (like Reverend Parris) when he comes to Salem.   He believes in truth and justice.  Although he makes mistakes, he is able to find the truth and fight for the innocent.

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