Please provide a character sketch of Edward Everett Hale.

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jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dr. Edward Everett Hale was a Unitarian minister and man of letters who wrote the well-known story "The Man without a Country," written in support of the Union during the Civil War. Hale was related to Helen Keller on her mother's side of the family, which went back to the Adams family in Massachusetts. Helen Keller's grandmother was Lucy Helen Everett, who was related to Edward Everett Hale. 

Helen knew Dr. Hale from the time she was eight, and she considered him a close and supportive friend. She writes of him that "He has filled the old skins of dogma with the new wine of love, and shown men what it is to believe, live and be free." As a minister, Dr. Hale broke with Calvinist tradition and taught about the promise and potential freedom of humans. Helen Keller wrote Hale many letters, and he returned his letters with his name written in Braille. He also sent her books and sea shells, and it was his idea, which Helen Keller's teacher Anne Sullivan adopted, that Helen study courses similar to those given at Radcliffe to prepare Keller for college. 

mrshh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dr. Edward Everett Hale was a longtime dear friend of Helen Keller.  He was a distant relation of hers through her maternal grandmother, who was an Everett.

Helen met Dr. Hale when she was eight-years-old.  Helen described him as having "wise, tender sympathy" for her as his "strong hand... helped [her] over many rough places."  Helen recognized that Dr. Hale was loyal to his country and kind to others.  It is clear through Helens writings that she greatly admired and respected Dr. Hale.  She even praised him as "a prophet and an inspirer of men, and a mighty doer of the Word, the friend of all his race."  He was a man who had a fresh way of thinking, according to Helen.  His approach was like "new wine."  

Dr. Hale was both understanding and accommodating to Helen.  He sought to connect with her in spite of her deafness and blindness.  When Dr. Hale wrote Helen letters, he would sign them by "pricking his signature in braille" on the paper.  Helen was able to read his signature because of this.