Why does Hale say he has come “to do the Devil’s work”? What motivates his actions?  

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pirateteacher's profile pic

pirateteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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In the concluding act of The Crucible John Hale completes his transformation as a dynamic character.  In the beginning of the play, he comes (as he tells Elizabeth) "as a bridegroom to he beloved, bearing gifts of high religion."  However, over the course of the play, Hale has realized his mistakes; the girls are not being tormented by witches and the judges in the town are not the moral judges he believed he once thought they were.  He realizes that his "investigations" have lead to the deaths of so many good, honest people in the town.

When Parris and Danforth ask why has he returned to responds by saying that he "has come to do the devil's work. I come to counsel good Christians they should belie themselves." After all of his talk about honesty and Christian values, Hale realizes that he must persuade the members of Salem to lie.  By lying and confessing to witchcraft, they will not be executed.  The only way he can feel better is by saving as many of the charged citizens as he can.

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act Four, Reverend Hale returns to Salem to encourage those accused of witchcraft to falsely confess in order to save their lives. At this point in the play, Reverend Hale understands that the court is corrupt and innocent people have died. When Danforth asks Hale why he has chosen to return from Andover, Hale replies, "I come to do the Devil's work" (Miller 131). Reverend Hale feels responsible for those who have died as well as the citizens who are on trial, but tries his best to save their lives at the end of the play. Hale knows that lying in front of God is a very serious sin, but begs Elizabeth to encourage her husband to lie in order to save his life. Hale tells Elizabeth that life is the most precious gift that God can give and even though lying is terrible in the eyes of the Lord, it is necessary when someone's life is at stake. Hale essentially feels like he is doing the "Devil's work" by asking upright Christians to lie.  

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