In The Crucible, why does Reverend Hale visit the Proctors?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

In Act Two, Reverend Hale visits John Proctor's home in order to do some independent investigation. When he enters John's home, Reverend Hale mentions that he has come on his own accord because Elizabeth's name was brought up in court. Hale then admits that he is a stranger to Salem and is ignorant of those citizens accused of witchcraft before they enter the court. Essentially, Reverend Hale is attempting to gauge whether or not recently accused citizens are possibly involved in witchcraft before they stand trial. Reverend Hale understands that accusing a farmer's wife of witchcraft is suspicious, especially those with outstanding reputations like Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor. During his visit to the Proctor's home, Reverend Hale asks several questions regarding their Christian merit. Reverend Hale's visit also indicates that he is beginning to question the court's authority and has doubts about its validity. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Reverend Hale is trying to understand the situation he is in.  He has been surprised by the accusation against Rebecca Nurse, having accepted her as an intelligent and well-read person, like himself.  He isn't sure what to make of the Proctors, and does not understand why they would avoid attending church.  It is in this scene that John Proctor speaks out against Rev. Parris, criticizing the man for hypocrisy and explaining his avoidance of church revolves around that, and not his belief or disbelief in God. 

Hale still believes in his quest here, especially when he first arrives at the house.  However, unlike the townspeople, he has an open mind, and his visit with the Proctors begins to tear at what few doubts he does have.  He goes in order to find truth - it just isn't the truth he thought he would find.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hale goes to the Proctors to warn them to get their religious affairs in order, such as baptizing their youngest child. Elizabeth's name has been brought up by Abigail as a witch, and Hale wants the Proctors to look like they are religious, upstanding people. He has them recite the Ten Commandments, and John Proctor forgets the one about adultery. He tells them to make sure they go to church from now on and to do whatever they're supposed to as good Puritans. He doesn't want Abigail or any of the others to have a good reason for calling either of them a witch.

At this point, Rev. Hale realizes the witch trials are fake, and he wants to save anymore people from prison or from being hanged. He goes to the Proctors to help them.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial