How is John Hale a dynamic character in The Crucible?Examples in the book.

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edcon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dynamic characters undergo a change in attitude throughout a literary work, and John Hale's attitude toward the witchcraft hysteria in Salem changes dramatically from his entrance in Act I to the play's final tragic scene in Act IV.  

When Hale arrives in Salem to investigate the suspicions of witchcraft, he is met with sycophancy from Parris, and it is fair to say that Hale acts rather officiously. He carries books he describes as "weighted with authority" and tells Putnam, "let me instruct you." It is clear that Hale relishes his reputation as a witch hunter, and he tells Ann Putnam and Rebecca Nurse that if he finds Satan at work in Salem, he will "crush him utterly." He participates enthusiastically in the interrogation of Tituba and the girls and exclaims, "Glory to God!—it is broken, they are free!" when he hears public confessions and accusations.

As the conflicts escalate in Act II, Hale admits to Proctor (after Proctor challenges Hale about the reason people in Salem are confessing) that it occurs to him that people might confess simply to save themselves from hanging.  Even as events begin to escalate at the end of the act and Elizabeth, Rebecca, Martha, and others are arrested, Hale still believes in the infallibility of the court and trusts that justice will be done in the trials.

In Act III, Hale experiences grave doubts about the girls' testimony and tries to persuade Danforth that Elizabeth's perjury is an understandable act because she believes she is protecting her husband from the serious charge of lechery.  Hale becomes increasingly uncomfortable with the proceedings when he begins to understand that accusations are being made for personal gain, not because there is actually witchcraft being performed in Salem. He is clearly rattled by the number of death warrants he signs his name to, and when John Proctor is arrested in the wake of Mary Warren's cowardly accusation, Hale denounces the proceedings and quits the court.

Hale returns to Salem in Act IV, but he is a changed man.  Instead of assisting in the trials, he works to get people to confess so they do not sacrifice their earthly lives in a corrupt trial. Hale pleads with Elizabeth Proctor to get her husband to confess, telling her, "it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride."

amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A dynamic character undergoes some change during the course of a novel, play, etc.

In The Crucible, Hale is dynamic because when he arrives in Salem, he's determined to investigate, solve, and prove the presence of witchcraft. However, by the play's end, Hale does recognize the truth which is that Abby and the other girls were lying all the time and that John Proctor is guilty only of adultery.

In the narrative that introduces Hale in Act 1, Miller notes that prior to his arrival in Salem, Hale had one experience with a witch. However, that woman turned out to be a "mere pest." Despite this experience, Hale remained determined that witchcraft did exist.

However, that experience never raised a doubt in his mind as to the reality of the underworld or the existence of Lucifer's many-faced lieutenants. And his belief is not to his discredit. Better minds than Hale's were--and still are--convinced that there is a society of spirits beyond our ken.

By the time Danforth has made up his mind not to retract any of the accusations, it is too late. Also, by this time, Hale has acknowledged that the girls were lying and he realizes that he has also played a part in contributing to the hysteria and false accusations.

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!! (Act 4, Scene 2)


gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend John Hale is considered a dynamic character throughout the play because he undergoes a significant internal change by discovering that the Salem court is corrupted. At the beginning of the play, Reverend Hale is depicted as an enthusiastic, naive individual, who is excited about the opportunity to find and eliminate witches from Salem's community. When he first arrives at Salem, Hale has faith in his training, religion, and the justice system he represents. As the play progresses, Hale takes it upon himself to begin interviewing accused citizens to validate the claims against them. When he visits Proctor's home in Act Two, Hale reluctantly favors John and Elizabeth but does not definitively rule out their potential involvement in witchcraft. By the end of Act Two, Hale's confidence in the court is slowly eroding and completely shatters in Act Three. Abigail's nefarious actions become transparent to Reverend Hale, and he knows that John Proctor is telling the truth. He sides with John Proctor and even quits the court at the end of Act Three. In Act Four, Reverend Hale has inherently changed and feels extreme remorse for supporting such a corrupted institution. Hale begins counseling accused citizens and encourages them to falsely confess to witchcraft in order to save their lives. Reverend Hale's transformation from being an avid supporter and proponent of the Salem court, to being a jaded, enemy of the institution makes him a dynamic character.