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The previous answer was strong. I would merely add that Hale’s importance is to represent the individuals who believe in the system of justice and struggle with the corruption that is a part of it. Hale’s significance of being a “broken minister,” in Proctor’s words, is powerful because he struggles with how to reconcile justice in the face of corruption. On one hand, Hale is quite admirable. He is the first individual in the position of some power to condemn Abigail for the lies she spreads. This is significant because it shows that at the most basic of levels, even individuals who are embedded in the machine of the Status Quo can speak out against injustice within it. Miller writes his drama about Salem, but also with the ghost of Nazism in mind. He recognizes that many Germans were decent, but went along with the Nazis because they were a part of the system and could not speak out against it. Hale is a character who rebuffs this, as he speaks out against the proceedings, suffers banishment because of his dissent, and returns to counsel the accused in trying to appease his own guilt for what he has done. Yet, Hale is also shown to be “broken” and a bit dangerous in his desire to want to “fix things” in accordance to the wrong ends. Hale’s faith in a system that has become so corrupted is dangerous. To an extent, Hale is still an apologist for a system that has wrongly condemned people and sent them to their death. It is here where Hale’s significance achieves even greater complexity in that when one sees evil, there can be little negotiation with it. Hale’s desire to compel those accused to be witches is rebuked by Elizabeth’s last lines of the play in that John’s actions represent “goodness.” Hale can never lay claim to this because he fails to make a formal and final break with a system of corruption and intrinsic evil. It is to this end that Hale acquires even greater significance.
Reverend Hale is an expert on demonic activity and witchcraft. He has been summoned to help the minister and leaders of the church determine what to do about the strange behavior of the girls.
In the beginning, Reverend Hale supported the witch trials, but later he changed his mind:
He was one of the most prominent and influential clergymen associated with the witch trials, and is most noted as having initially supported the trials, and then changing his mind, publishing a critique of them.
Reverend Hale begins looking in every home for witches. He seems to be level headed, but when innocent people are comdemned as witches, he begans to realize the error of the leaders ways.
Reverend Hale believes John Proctor is innocent. He pleads with Elizabeth to convince John to claim he is a involved in witchcraft and to deny the devil. Then he will be saved. Of course, Elizabeth determines she will not because John finally has his goodness. She will not take that from John. John Proctor hangs.
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