Why is Reverend Hale in Salem in Act 1 of The Crucible?
Caught in a dangerous predicament, Reverend Parris, the local clergyman and the figure whose niece Abigail is at the center of the hysteria about to grip Salem, is desperate for evidence that will refute the notion that his daughter Betty has been the victim of sorcery. Playwright Arthur Miller’s allegory about the fear of communism that gripped the American public in the late 1940s and early 1950s, The Crucible, is a carefully constructed reenactment of the real-life Salem witch trials of the late seventeenth century. The tragic chain of events begins when Abigail, Betty, Ruth Putnam, and Tituba (the Parris family’s black slave), are observed performing a ritual akin, according to some, to witchcraft, with Betty falling into a trancelike state as a result. It is in his zeal to disprove the notion that witchcraft was practiced by his daughter and niece that Reverend Parris states that he has called for Reverend Hale:
“There be no unnatural cause here. Tell him (the physician who has been examining Betty) I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that. Let him (the physician) look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There be none.”
In conclusion, then, Reverend Hale has been summoned by Reverend Parris in the hopes that he, Hale, will disavow the local populace of any suggestion that Betty and the others have been engaged in witchcraft.
Reverend Hale is a minister from Boston who has been called to Salem to ascertain whether witchcraft is involved with the strange events happening there. He has spent "a good deal of his time pondering the invisible world, especially since he had himself encountered a witch in his (own) parish not long before". Even though the accusations of witchcraft had been found to be questionable in that case, Reverend Hale is looked upon as a sort of expert in matters concerning the supernatural, and as he arrives in Salem, feels "the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for". Reverend Hale "conceives of himself much as a young doctor on his first call...he feels himself allied with the best minds of Europe - kings, philosophers, scientists, and ecclesiasts of all churches". He believes that he is finally being "called upon to face what may be a bloody fight with the Fiend himself" (Act I).
Reverend Hale has been summoned to see if there is any evidence of witchcraft in Salem. We don't who has called for Hale to come, but he is an expert on witchcraft from nearby Beverly. When he arrives, carrying a number of heavy, impressive books, he is confident that he can look through the evidence to determine if indeed any witchcraft is at work in Salem. As the play unfolds, however, he becomes less certain.