How does Reverend John Hale change throughout The Crucible by Arthur Miller?

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The Reverend Hale enters The Crucible in act 1 with the assurance of an expert who has been invited because of his specialist knowledge. His books, he says, are heavy because they are "weighted with authority," and he is given to making weighty pronouncements, including one so absurd that Miller...

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The Reverend Hale enters The Crucible in act 1 with the assurance of an expert who has been invited because of his specialist knowledge. His books, he says, are heavy because they are "weighted with authority," and he is given to making weighty pronouncements, including one so absurd that Miller in the stage directions expresses surprise that audiences do not laugh at it:

Now let me instruct you. We cannot look to superstition in this. The Devil is precise

When Hale visits the Proctors in act 2, he admits that he comes "without the court's authority," but he seems to regard his own authority as a minister and an expert on witchcraft as sufficient for him to question John and Elizabeth and ascertain whether they are good Christians or not. By the end of the act, however, his certainty is badly shaken when Elizabeth is arrested. Proctor calls him a coward and a "broken minister" and compares him to Pontius Pilate, and Hale is unable to respond, thrown into confusion by the unjust and arbitrary proceedings to which he has lent his authority.

By the end of the play, Hale is no longer doubtful. He is certain that the courts is unjust and bitterly regrets his own role in the witch-hunt. He tries to counsel Danforth to show moderation and reason but seems to know that his efforts will be in vain. He says that he counts himself as Proctor's murderer and says angrily, when Danforth asks him why he has returned to Salem:

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!

A greater contrast with the eager, self-confident authority of act 1 could scarcely be imagined.

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John Hale in The Crucible by Arthur Miller epitomizes a dynamic character.  Throughout the drama, Hale evolves from a man with intentions to free the world from satanic influence to a person who realizes the Salem witch trials were based on lies and fakery. Reverend Parris asked Hale to come and assist in the pursuit of evil.

Hale is cautious in accepting situations that people believe have witchery involved. As a recognized authority on the devil and witchcraft, initially Hale appears arrogant and authoritative.  Although Hale had never really accused anyone of being a witch, he is ready to investigate and rid Salem of any demonic influences.    

Act I

Hale arrives with his weighty books of authority.  His idealism comes forth as Hale meets several of the characters involved in the night in the forest of naked dancing and flying: Abigail, Betty, and Tituba. 

In addition,  he is introduced to some of the well-known townspeople: John Proctor, Rebecca Nurse, The Putnams, and the Coreys.  Hale also observes some hysteria from the girls which increases his concern about the devil’s presence.  

Since Proctor has chosen not to attend church, Hale comes to question him by asking Proctor to repeat the Ten Commandments.  Proctor names all of them except adultery, which ironically is the one that he has broken.

Act II

Hale wants to find and prosecute witches.  He is willing to convict anyone that appears to have the devil within him/her.  Hale definitely believes that:

“…powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack upon this village. There is too much evidence to deny it.”

As the trial progresses, Hale begins to see some hypocrisy on the part of the court. He believes that the good people have nothing to fear because God will protect them.   The judges do not always give a fair hearing to people who have proof that they are not witches. In addition, there are people like Rebecca Nurse who is considered to be one of the godliest women in Salem accused based on the shady testimony of Ann Putnam.


When Danforth fails to give a fair trial to Proctor, Hale doubts the purpose of the trials.  Up to this time, Hale had signed seventy-two death warrants.    Hale consistently challenges Danforth in his questioning of Mary Warren and John Proctor realizing that Proctor is telling the truth. 

When Abigail Williams does not deny her affair with Proctor and threatens the court, Hale calls this to the attention of the court, but the court ignores him.  Finally, when Proctor is sentenced to death, Hale denounces the court and leaves Salem.

After several months, Hale returns on the day of Proctor’s execution. His purpose is to try to get Proctor to sign the false confession to keep from being hanged.  Proctor does sign but refuses to give Danforth the copy of his signature. Hale begs Danforth for more time to convince Proctor to save his own life. Danforth refuses because it would make the court look bad. 

In addition, Hale asks Elizabeth Proctor to ask her husband to save himself.  She refuses because she believes that it is his decision.  Obviously, the Reverend Hale would like to relieve himself of some of the guilt for the innocent people who were hanged after he signed their death warrants.  Hale now knows that the entire proceedings have been a sham caused by silly girls and gullible adults with the devil and superstition on their shoulders.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller is a social play set in the Puritan colony of Salem, Massachusetts and based loosely on historical events in the year 1692. Miller quickly establishes the atmosphere of the colony as a rigid place with a community focus on religion, prayer, and the Bible.

As the play unfolds, the Reverend John Hale is summoned to Salem by the paranoid Minister of Salem, Reverend Parris, who demands absolute obedience from his parishioners. Parris suspects that members of the community are practicing devil-worship and perceives it as a threat to his authority. He contacts Reverend Hale to confirm his suspicions. Hale is an expert in the field of witchcraft who feels “the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for.”

The Reverend Hale is a logical, good-intentioned man who, at the outset of the play, is a scholarly type seeking to help the community maintain a peaceful society. Although he is reasonable and just, he is blind to Reverend Parris’ fanaticism. He sides with Parris, who tells the community that Hale, “Like almost all men of learning ... spent a good deal of his time pondering the invisible world, especially since he himself encountered a witch in his parish not long before.”

After arriving in Salem, Hale examines Parris’ daughter, Betty, who is believed to be possessed by a devil. As he follows up on the possession concerns, he proceeds to inquire as to the Christian beliefs of community members who have been arrested on suspicion of witchcraft by testing their knowledge of the Ten Commandments. By the end of act 2 of the play, the audience can clearly see that Reverend Hale’s beliefs are in sync with those of Reverend Parris.

In act 3 of The Crucible, Reverend Hale begins to waiver in his view of the witchcraft trials. As the central character and accused adulterer, John Proctor, is charged with consorting with the devil, Reverend Hale pleads with Proctor’s accusers who he now believes are hypocrites. Nevertheless, Proctor is condemned to death. Reverend Hale continues to plead for Proctor’s life and loses all faith in the court process.

Reverend Hale blindly adhered to the fanatical views of those with religious and political authority at the outset of the play. He failed to see the illogical actions and lack of justice employed by those in power. At the close of the play, as Proctor proceeds to his death, Hale has reversed his original beliefs and feels nothing but contempt, disgust, and anger over the injustice he has witnessed in Salem.

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At the beginning of the play, Reverend Hale is depicted as an enthusiastic, confident intellectual, who is excited about finally getting the opportunity to test his skills by ridding Salem of its witches and evil spirits. He is confident in Salem's authority figures and believes that no one is above suspicion. He genuinely believes that Salem is experiencing a spiritual attack from the forces of evil and is prepared to exercise his skills to help the community.

In act 2, Reverend Hale visits the homes of accused citizens in order to get a better understanding of the community and its members. He still supports Salem's court and believes that everyone is a possible suspect. Despite learning that Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and Elizabeth Proctor have been arrested, he has faith that Salem's authority figures will find them innocent and does not believe that the court is corrupt.

In act 3, Reverend Hale witnesses the defensive, authoritative demeanor of Salem's court officials and is disturbed by their lack of tolerance and judgment. He argues that Danforth and Hawthorne should allow Proctor and Giles Corey to address their grievances and begins to side with Proctor. After Giles Corey is arrested and Elizabeth lies on behalf of her husband, Hale is fully convinced that the court is corrupt. When Abigail and other girls pretend that Mary's spirit is attacking them and Danforth accuses John of being involved in witchcraft, Proctor yells "God is dead!" and is removed from the court (Miller, 119). At the end of act 3, Reverend Hale denounces the proceedings and quits the court.

In act 4, Reverend Hale is fully against the corrupt court and is overwhelmed with guilt for once supporting the proceedings. He spends the majority of his time visiting the wrongly accused citizens in prison and encourages them to give false testimonies in order to save their lives. Overall, Reverend Hale changes from being a staunch supporter of the court and influential member of the proceedings to an opponent of Salem's corrupt authority figures. By the end of the play, Reverend Hale denounces the proceedings and actively attempts to undermine the court's authority.

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At first, Reverend Hale is a very enthusiastic participant in the Salem witch-hunt. He arrives in town fully expecting to find witches under every rock, round every corner. He's convinced that Salem's positively infested with all manner of diabolical goings-on and is determined to play his part in expunging all traces of evil from the town. As Hale fervently believes that he has God on his side, he's incredibly self-righteous. As far as he's concerned, he can do no wrong, and anyone who stands in his way is impeding the Lord's work.

As the play progresses, however, Hale becomes noticeably more humble in his demeanor. Although he never stops believing in the existence of witchcraft in Salem, he does still maintain an unshakable commitment to due process. If witches are to be apprehended and hanged, then it's essential that the authorities proceed in the proper manner, on the basis of irrefutable evidence. So many of the townsfolk are ready to believe Abigail's lies, but Hale wants to get to the truth of the matter. And when he discovers through Mary Warren's confession what the young girls have been up to all this time, he doesn't hesitate to use his considerable legal knowledge and moral authority to try and put a stop to the proceedings.

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Parris sends for Reverend Hale to study the situation since he is more conversant with matters surrounding demonic arts. Reverend Hale arrives in Salem ready for the task ahead. He brings with him plenty of books to help him along in his task of tracking down the devil. Hale informs Parris that it is necessary to study the situation before pointing to witchcraft. Hale is confident that his knowledge will guide him to the truth. However, Hale forces Tituba to make a false confession that marks the beginning of the false accusations.

Hale visits the Proctors and affirms that there is enough evidence that points to witchcraft in Salem. He tries to find out if the Proctors are involved in the unfolding events. Hale learns of the arrest of both Rebecca and Martha, and, despite having knowledge of Rebecca’s virtues, he believes witchcraft is evident and orders that due process be followed.

Hale discovers the girls’ mischief through Mary Warren’s confession and tries to support John, Francis, and Giles. Hale finally denounces the proceedings and asks that they stop before more innocent people are hanged.

HALE: Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another is condemned! I may shut my conscience to it no more—private vengeance is working through this testimony! From the beginning, this man has struck me true. By my oath to Heaven, I believe him now, and I pray you call back his wife before we—

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At the beginning of the play, Reverend Hale comes to Salem with a very high opinion of himself and his education.  He believes that he knows the way to root out Satan and banish him from the village, that he can identify witches beyond the shadow of a doubt and compel them to return to the Lord.  However, over the course of the play, his confidence begins to wane -- especially once Elizabeth Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are accused and convicted -- until he eventually quits the court at the end of Act Three. 

He returns, in Act Four, a changed man.  He says, "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."  He now counsels the convicted to lie to the court and confess to witchcraft in order to save their own lives because "life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however, glorious, may justify the taking of it."  He sees life as being more important than truth now, and he recognizes the the corruption of the court that he once sought to uphold and justify.

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In Act I of The Crucible, Reverend John Hale of Beverly arrives in Salem.  With suspicion of witchcraft, Reverend Parris calls Hale to town as an expert. Hale has studied witchcraft and arrives armed with his books ready to save the girls from any danger.  After he examines Betty and Tituaba confesses, he is convinced the girls are being afflicted by witches, and it's up to him to save them.

In Act II Hale visits the Proctor home "in order to test the Christian character of the house." As part of his job, he is going around town meeting with people who have been brought up in the courts.  At this point Hale still believes that there are witches in Salem and it is up to him to save them.

By Act III, Hale begins to suspect the courts are not as fair as he thought.  When Proctor comes to court with Mary Warren's deposition Hale begs the courts to send him home for a lawyer, but the courts do not want to listen to Proctor and are not willing to wait for a lawyer to present the case. At the end of the Act, Hale leaves shouting that he "quits this court!" He realizes that the courts are not listening to both sides of the argument.

When the play ends in Act IV, Hale returns to Salem; however, this time he is a different person. He comes out of guilt hoping that he can convince some of the accused to confess. He now knows that they're not guilty, but he wants them to confess so that they may live.  He knows it is his fault that the courts have taken things to this point, and he wants to try to save as many as he can.

Because of his transformation, Hale is referred to as a dynamic character- or a charter who goes through a dramatic inner change in a work.

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