What literary device is being used in this quote by Reverend Hale: "Man, remember, until an hour before the Devil fell, God thought him beautiful in heaven?"

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poetrymfa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The literary device being used in this quotation, which is spoken by Reverend Hale in Act Three of The Crucible, is that of an allusion.

An allusion is a reference to a person, place, idea, or thing that has some sort of literary, political, historical, or cultural importance. Allusions do not explicitly describe what they are referring to, but rather only mention it in passing.

In this quote, Reverend Hale is making an allusion to the Biblical story of Lucifer, a once loved attendant of the Lord, being cast out of heaven and banished forever from God's side. We can find references to this incident repeatedly throughout the Bible, but perhaps most notably in Ezekiel 28, which states:

You were an anointed guardian cherub. I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you. In the abundance of your trade you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire. Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground; I exposed you before kings, to feast their eyes on you.

Hale is using this tale to make a point that even the good women of Salem, once loved by God, could error and sin—resulting in their fall from grace. 

pirateteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In this quote, Reverend Hale uses a Biblical allusion as both a warning and explanation for John Proctor. Taken from Act III of The Crucible, Hale still believes that the town and the girls are afflicted by an unseen unnatural force.  While Proctor is, understandable, distressed that his wife has not only been accused, but is being arrested along with Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey.

As these women, some of the most well-known and righteous people in Salem are being arrested, Proctor implores Hale about Rebecca "How may such a woman murder children?"

Hale's response alludes to the bible story's about the devil which state that at one time he was a favored of God and lived in heaven with him. He was not banished to hell until he went against God and thus "fell from Heaven.  Hale is suggesting that these good women may have fallen in a similar manner.