In The Crucible, what does Reverend Hale hope to accomplish by examining Betty?

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favoritethings's profile pic

favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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When he examines Betty Parris, Mr. Hale hopes to find definitive proof that she's been afflicted by the Devil.  When others make suggestions about Betty's ailment and its possible cause, he says, "No, no.  Now let me instruct you.  We cannot look to superstition in this.  The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone [...]."  According to this minister, there will be sure signs, physical signs, that Betty is in the Devil's grip, and he examines her in order to search for those signs.  However, as he holds her up, asking her questions, she remains limp in his hands and does not speak.  He has said that if she truly has the Devil within her, the others "will witness some frightful wonders in this room," and he even commands Mr. Putnam to stand close in case she begins to fly.  However, there are no frightful wonders, and Mr. Hale appears to find no physical signs of witchcraft (we might assume that this is because there are none since Betty isn't actually witched); therefore, he soon turns his attention to questioning Abigail about their dancing in the woods.

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writergal06's profile pic

writergal06 | Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Reverend Hale is one of the few clergyman that is actually looking for true signs that the girls are bewitched by Satan. When he examines Betty, he is looking for a sign that it is Satan or demons that are affecting the girl and not some superficial or physical affliction. Unlike the other prominent members of the town and the neighboring towns, Hale does not immediately assume that they girls are being attacked by witches just because they say that they are. He looks for, in his view, very real signs of the devil on the girls, and makes judgments based on his studies and observations and not on hearsay or one-sided testimony.