TheCrucible 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.
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.