What is Reverend Hale's main motivation, main conflict, and personality in The Crucible?I'm very bad at American Lit. so if you can't give all the information please give as much as you can.

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e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Hale is a complex figure in the play. He is motivated by an honest interest to help the people of Salem, starting with Betty Parris. However, Hale is clearly also motivated by flattery and pride. He is an expert on witchcraft and the treatment he receives in Salem confirms his high opinion of himself. 

As the play goes on, Hale's honesty, his clear-sightedness and his integrity become the most important - and questionable - elements of his character. Hale has helped to stoke a witchcraft paranoia in Salem. When he is confronted with the truth about the accusations made by Abigail and the other girls, Hale is forced to choose between a loyalty to the truth and a loyalty to the majority of the town.

Importantly, the town's position reinforces Hale's initial assessment of the situation in Salem, lending continued credence to his "expertise". When presented with a compelling insight into the true nature of the witchcraft accusations, Hale cannot take an honest view. 

...he allows his ideology to hide the evidence presented to his reason.

Abandoning the view that witchcraft is actually taking place to admit that the accusations are a fraud also means that Hale will be admitting that he was wrong, diminishing his personal importance and the importance of his "expertise" on witchcraft. 

Hale does ultimately admit to being wrong and comes back to Salem to advocate for Proctor's release. He finds honesty in the end and attempts to win back some integrity. 

Hale embodies many of the moral contradictions of the play: he is a man of integrity who, although at times misguided and overzealous, is willing to change his mind when confronted with the truth.


favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Ultimately, Reverend Hale is more motivated by his desire to assist the victims of the Salem Witch Trials than he is by his own vanity and pride. When he returns to the town in Act Four, he tells Danforth his reason: "What, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil's work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves." He is attempting to persuade the people who are about to be hanged for witchcraft to lie and confess; if they confess, then they will not be executed. He believes that "life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it," as he tells Elizabeth Proctor. He feels that lying is far less of a sin than allowing oneself to be executed when one could do something to prevent it. Of course, the people scheduled to die are, in the end, more interested in maintaining their own integrity, and they will not confess to a crime of which they are not guilty.

Further, Hale is also motivated by his guilt. He tells Danforth, "There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!!" He feels partially responsible for the executions that have already taken place as well as for the ones about to take place, because he helped to fuel the creation of the court and then quit it at the end of Act Three rather than remain and try to fight the corruption he saw there. Now, he not only wants to assist the victims but to soothe his own conscience as well.