How does Reverend Hale test John Proctor? Does Proctor pass the test?

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Reverend Hale is unusual among the leaders of the witch-craze in that he actually wants to get to the truth. He takes his role as lead investigator very seriously indeed, so much so that he goes to the trouble of interviewing the Proctors in person. What Hale's hoping to do...

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Reverend Hale is unusual among the leaders of the witch-craze in that he actually wants to get to the truth. He takes his role as lead investigator very seriously indeed, so much so that he goes to the trouble of interviewing the Proctors in person. What Hale's hoping to do here is to ascertain their characters, to see whether they're the kind of people who'd normally get involved in all manner of dark, diabolical activities.

As part of the interview, he asks Elizabeth Proctor to recite the Ten Commandments. She does so without hesitation. John, however, embarrassingly flunks the test. He remembers nine of the commandments, but tellingly the one he omits is the one relating to adultery. As we know, John's already committed adultery by having an affair with Abigail Williams. He didn't pay much heed to "Thou shalt not commit adultery" then, and it seems to have slipped his mind now.

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In act 2, Reverend Hale arrives at the home of John and Elizabeth Proctor.  Elizabeth's name has been mentioned in court, so he comes to conduct an informal interview of the couple to ascertain their characters for himself.  During this questioning, Hale asks Elizabeth if she can name all Ten Commandments, and she answers—quite confidently—that she can.  When asked the same question, however, John is less confident and even hesitates a bit in his response.  Hale says to him, "Let you repeat them, if you will."  John begins to recite the Commandments, counting them on his fingers as he goes.  He accidentally repeats the rule about graven images twice, and then he cannot remember the rule about adultery. This is terribly ironic given his recent adultery and the fact that he and Elizabeth were literally arguing about it moments before.  He does not, therefore, pass the test.

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