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Reverend Hale's role and motivations in The Crucible

Summary:

In The Crucible, Reverend Hale is initially motivated by a desire to save Salem through his expertise in witchcraft. Described as an "eager-eyed intellectual," Hale is called to examine Parris's daughter Betty and determine if her illness is supernatural. However, his actions inadvertently contribute to the prejudice and injustice of the Salem witch trials, reflecting the potential for well-intentioned individuals to cause harm.

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Who is Reverend Hale in The Crucible, and why is he contacted?

Arthur Miller's play The Crucible offers us a glimpse into the inner working of men's hearts and the potential for evil that may lurk there. Reverend Hale is a character intended to be the savior of Salem and inadvertently helps to further the prejudice and injustice of the trials.

In Act I, Miller offers commentary about Hale that sets up this character's nature and role in the play. He tells us Hale is an "eager-eyed intellectual" and his arrival in Salem, and the subsequent search for witches, is a "beloved" task. Hale is a man of great learning and has spent much time "pondering the invisible world." It is because of this reputation of occult knowledge that Reverend Hale is called to Salem to determine who may be, in fact, a witch. He will ask to function essentially as expert testimony in the trials. Judges Danforth and Hawthorn will look to his expertise in guiding their decisions. At the outset of the play, we learn Parris has called him to complete an examination of his daughter Betty to determine if the cause of her illness lies in the world of witchcraft.

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Why did Rev. Parris send for Rev. Hale in The Crucible?

Act I opens at Reverend Parris's house, with his daughter Betty sick in her bed. She will not wake. The night before, he discovered the girls, Betty and his niece Abigail, dancing in the woods. Such an activity was a major moral sin in Puritan New England. Since the doctor is baffled by her ailment, Parris begins to think that something supernatural may be the cause. Throughout the Act, he recalls seeing other items at the scene of their dancing -- specifically a pot with something moving in it. He fears that they have conjured the Devil. The audience also learns early on in the Act that Reverend Parris is not highly favored by all the citizens of Salem. The biggest motive for Parris is to cover himself from the potential of a witch in his house. Adding to his pressure is the influence of Putnam, a prominent member of the town who also has an afflicted daughter. Parris claims that he is just trying to rule out witchcraft, but we see that his motives are much more selfish. The reason that Hale is Parris's choice to bring to Salem is simple -- he is the expert on the topic and he as actually found a "witch" in other towns. 

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Why is Rev. Hale originally in Salem in The Crucible?

Reverend Hale is specifically summoned as an expert in detecting the presence of witchcraft.  He is asked to come to Salem by Reverend Parris to examine his daughter Betty, after she falls into an unknown illness.

Reverend Parris hopes that Reverend Hale will confirm that Betty's illness has nothing to do with the supernatural.

In Act I, Scene I, Reverend Parris says referring to Betty's condition:

"There be no unnatural cause here.  Tell him I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that.  Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here.  There be none." (Miller)

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Why is Rev. Hale originally in Salem in The Crucible?

Reverend John Hale is a minister of great book learning and much respect.  He is from the Boston area where there have been troubles with accusations of witchcraft in which he was able to determine the cause and help resolve the matter.  He is summoned to Salem for the same reason--to determine if they do, indeed, have a "witch" problem.  He is sort of a comic character appearing with all his books and lumbering down the road, but he is one of the only people in Salem to recognize the innocence of John Proctor regardless of the fact that he is too weak a character to do anything about it.

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

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. 

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

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.

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

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.

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

Reverend Parris is caught in a tough position. He doesn't want to admit that his daughter has possibly been involved in witchcraft, he doesn't want to lose the faith of the parishioners who believe there is evil among them. Parris knows something needs to be done, but he can't bring himself to denounce his daughter and her friends.

Parris sends for Hale who he says has more experience in these matters. Parris is essentially "passing the buck" and letting Hale make the decision about what should be done. Therefore, Parris doesn't have to accept any of the blame.

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Why does Parris summon Reverend Hale in The Crucible?

Parris calls in Reverend Hale in order to calm the fears of the townspeople in Salem (and to protect himself -- he fears being ousted by an enemy faction).  Rumors are already circulating quickly about his daughter Betty.  Some people are saying that she's possessed; others say that they saw her fly over a neighbor's barn.  Moreover, rumors are circulating about the reputation of his niece, Abigail, as well.  Parris is terrified that people will believe that witchcraft has infected his home, and, as Mrs. Putnam says, everyone will think that "It is surely a stroke of hell upon [Parris]."  He will lose all credibility if this rumor persists.  Therefore, Parris is desperate to get ahead of the hysteria and declare that there is no witchcraft in his house (or Salem), so he calls in a well-known expert, Mr. Hale, to confirm his view.  He believes, after all, that Hale will find no evidence of witchcraft, as he tells Putnam that calling Hale is "A precaution only." 

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Why does Parris summon Reverend Hale in The Crucible?

Parris is nervous during the opening scene of The Crucible because his daughter is paralyzed. As the town's resident minister during the late 1600s, there is great fear that the daughter may be possessed. This would be a great problem for his reputation. In fact, his career could be ruined. Although it would be great to have a doctor just fix an illness, Reverend Hale of Beverly is a known expert on these issues. Calling him in can confirm that she isn't possessed. If by chance she is, then this Reverend Hale should be able to exorcize the demon possessing her because he already apparently healed another woman of this type of ailment.

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Why does Parris summon Reverend Hale in The Crucible?

Parris has sent for the Reverend Hale from Beverly because he has already handled a suspected case of witchcraft in his parish (though he eventually determined that the woman in question was nothing more than a pest) and because Hale is an acknowledged expert in the subject. Hale is, like Parris, a minister and a Harvard graduate, and has a greater reputation as a man of learning (the real John Hale wrote several influential works on witchcraft). John Proctor, upon meeting him, says that he has heard Hale is a sensible man.

Parris is obviously concerned about Betty and hopes Hale will be able to cure her, but he is also desperately worried about appearances, particularly the idea that the devil is present in his house (which, ironically, Hale actually encourages). He calls on Hale at least partly in order to be seen to be doing something about the rising hysteria in his parish, which he feels is threatening his position.

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Why does Parris summon Reverend Hale in The Crucible?

Reverend Samuel Parris is not well-liked in the community of Salem, despite his position as their spiritual leader. Consequently, he is insecure. His insecurity drives him to try to exert more power and authority to compensate. Although he is responsible for inviting Reverend Hale to Salem to get to the bottom of what is plaguing the girls, his insecurity deepens when Hale arrives and takes charge of what should really be Parris's responsibilities. It is reasonable to think that Parris mistakenly thought that he would look like a wise leader for bringing in an expert consultant, but instead, he looks like a panicked and fearful weakling quickly relegated to the the sidelines. Reverend Hale has a reputation for being a witchcraft expert, and Parris quickly comes to view him as a rival. In calling him "Mr." instead of "Reverend," Parris is trying to downplay his rival's strength.

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

At the end of Act Three, Reverend Hale leaves the court in outrage. He has seen Abigail and the other girls' manipulation and has condemned the proceedings.

We discover at the beginning of Act Four that he is visiting the accused in jail. Reverend Parris says the following about his visitations:

Hear me. Rebecca have not given me a word this three month since she came. Now she sits with him, and her sister and Martha Corey and two or three others, and he pleads with them, confess their crimes and save their lives.

It becomes apparent that Reverend Hale has been begging the accused to confess. His earlier outrage and denunciation stem from his newfound belief that the girls are, and have been, misleading the court. He has witnessed their deceit firsthand, and he now believes that he can save those who have been condemned. Furthermore, he seems to feel guilty for having been involved in an injustice.

Reverend Hale has, from the outset, been a firm believer that the Devil is afoot in Salem. He has made it his duty to root out those who have been corrupted by Satan. Now, however, it appears that he also wants to atone for his guilt in having had so many brought before the court. It seems, though, that his efforts have been largely unsuccessful. He reports that Rebecca Nurse, Martha Corey, and others cannot be driven to confess.

You must pardon them. They will not budge. 

Judge Danforth refuses to grant them a pardon. He believes that it will be unjust because twelve people have already been hanged. He also refuses Reverend Hale's request for more time. Hale's continued attempts at getting Judge Danforth to understand the desperate situation in the town are all to no avail, and Judge Danforth asks him why he has returned to the court. The Reverend's anguish is pertinently displayed when he cries out:

Why, it is all simple. I come to do the Devil’s work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves... There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!!

In the end, those who Reverend Hale so desperately tries to save are all put to death.

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

To his credit, Reverend Hale has changed his mind about the truth of the accusations of witchcraft in Salem.

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.

In the end, Hale no longer believes that the claims made by Abigail and the other girls are true. In response to this he removes himself from the court and its proceedings in Salem. 

When he returns to Salem and goes to the prison it is to redeem himself, to attempt to avoid an uprising against the injustice of the court and to save John Proctor from death. 

He tells Elizabeth Proctor:

I would save your husband's life, for if he is taken I count myself his murderer. 

Hale fails in his attempts to persuade the court (Danforth and Hathorne) to postpone the carrying out of Proctor's sentence. 

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

At the beginning of the play, there are rumors of witchcraft spreading throughout Salem's community, and Reverend Parris's daughter is incapacitated, which is both puzzling and disheartening to her father and the community. When Susanna Walcott enters the scene, she brings back word from Doctor Griggs concerning Betty's perplexing condition. Susanna tells Reverend Parris that the doctor cannot find any cure in his extensive library that will help Betty and suggests that Parris look to "unnatural things" as the cause of her illness. Reverend Parris then tells Susanna to inform Doctor Griggs that he sent for Reverend Hale from Beverly to investigate the possibility of witchcraft. Reverend Hale is a relatively young intellectual, who is an educated specialist in the dark arts and anything concerning the "invisible world." Reverend Hale arrives at the beginning of the play to investigate and discover the source of witchcraft throughout the community. Despite Proctor and Rebecca Nurse's warnings, Reverend Hale begins his investigation and hysteria quickly spreads throughout Salem. 

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

Reverend Hale has come to Salem to provide some help or insight into the problem of the perceived possession of the girls.  He enters as a learned individual, a man of letters and someone who has the credibility as both a trained professional and outsider into the town's issues.  Hale is zealous about his "first call," and Miller describes him as such:  "His painfully acquired armory of symptoms, catchwords, and diagnostic procedures is now to be put to use at last."  He is excited about the opportunity to provide "goodness and its preservation" to the people of Salem.  At the same time, he is almost anticipating a "bloody fight with the Fiend himself."  

It is in this light where Hale comes to Salem.  It has become clear that there is an issue with the Devil in Salem and Hale wants to be a part of the solution to the problem.  This being his first assignment, he approaches it with much in way of anticipation and excitement.  For Hale, this is the chance of a lifetime.  His entry into Salem is conceived out of goodness and the belief that he is doing "God's work."  He enters Salem on the side of the prosecution.  As the drama unfolds, it becomes clear that his own certainty and maintaining it is his own crucible.

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

Reverend Hale has a huge background in demonology and witch-hunting, so he is a sought-after expert right from the start. However, Hale is a very dynamic character in the story. At first, he starts off blinded by his own self-confidence. Then he slowly becomes broken into the reality of what really was going in the village. At the end, he was in deep desire of redeeming himself from whatever harm his expertise may have added to the havoc of the village.

As Hale sees the the shady nature of the issue in the village, his self-confidence begins to shatter, and his guilt begins to increase. He goes in a journey of soul-searching, and realizes that the only way to fix things would be to make up for what he may have enabled: To make all the people that he enabled to accuse others to recant their accusations, and try to save those who are now condemned to die. Moreover, he wanted to make witches confess to save them from hanging, although at times he was actively encouraging them to lie. He particularly was feeling guilty for Rebecca Nurse and John Proctor.

Upon being asked why he is back, his answer was

Hale: "Why, it is all simple. i come to do the devil's work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves. There is blood on my head! can not see the blood on my head!!"

However, he is unable to make the people do as he wanted. People would not confess nor believe the promise of being saved by confession. At the end of chapter 4, he does his last attempt at saving his own grace by begging Elizabeth to tell Proctor to change his mind, to no avail. The fact that he even utters the words:

What profit him to bleed? Shall the dust praise him? Shall the worms declare his truth?

Shows that we no longer do we have the boisterous and righteous Hale, but a man that no longer obeys and follows the system. Hence, chapter 4 is the summation of Hale's changes.

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

Reverend Hale has been summoned to Salem to investigate the accusations of witchcraft.

In this play, Puritans take witchcraft very seriously.  They believe in it, or at least most of them do, and they fear it.  Reverend Hale is the person to call if you suspect there are witches in your midst!  Salem's preacher, Reverend Parris, sends for him when he realizes that he is out of his league.

Parris, his eyes going wide: No - no. There be no unnatural cause here. Tell him I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that.  Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There be none. (Act 1)

Reverend Hale will supposedly investigate and determine if there is witchcraft afoot.  He is from Beverly, and “has much experience in all demonic-arts.”  This includes finding a witch in Beverly.  You can tell by the description of him that he really loves witch-hunting.

Mr. Hale is nearing forty, a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intel-lectual. This is a beloved errand for him; on being called here to ascertain witchcraft he felt the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for. (Act 1)

Reverend Hale thinks that the Devil is “wily.”  Proctor tells Hale that he has heard Hale is a sensible man, and he hopes that he will talk some sense into people.  Hale tries to do the right thing, but Salem is swept into hysteria.  It is hard to separate the truth from the fiction.  Hale does his best to determine if there is something really there, but ends up succumbing to the general consensus.

Being an expert on witchcraft, Hale is out of his element in Salem.  There are accusations abound from people who seem credible.  Unlike the one witch in Beverly, Salem is crawling with supposed witches.

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

The Crucible by Arthur Miller is based on the occurrences in Salem, USA in the seventeenth century. The community is steeped in superstition and easily persuaded that evil pervades their town when the minister's daughter, Betty Parris and her cousin, Abigail Williams, are caught dancing naked in the forest, a "sinful" activity. The girls, so as not to get into trouble, invent an elaborate plan to suggest that they are not responsible for their actions and have in fact been influenced by witches and are possessed. The townspeople believe these claims and, with their own agendas and need for retribution for their own unrelated problems, become involved in a web of intricate lies and assumptions which create an unmanageable situation. The Reverend Parris, Betty's father, sees an opportunity to create a name for himself and re-establish his authority in the town and, after the girls have provided the names of those so-called "witches," the town prepares to try and convict them. The crimes are punishable by hanging and the situation is, therefore, untenable as, even those who defend the accused are then also implicated and many innocent people are sentenced to hang.

The Reverend John Hale, "a specialist" in exposing witchcraft, comes from Beverly, a nearby town, at Reverend Parris's request, to officiate at the trials. He is tasked with establishing the connection to witchcraft and to expose the truth. He is considered an expert because he has studied its origins and even convicted a witch in his own town. He is excited to face "the Fiend himself." 

Eventually, however, recognizes the injustice. He begins to doubt the truth of the trials and, when Proctor is found guilty, he is tormented. He does try to find a way to change the outcome but is, however, not influential enough to make a difference, despite his expertise and knowing that the accused are not guilty. Matters have gone too far. 

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

When the doctor can not figure out what is wrong with Betty, the others begin to argue about whether her condition is the effect of witchcraft. We begin to see people taking sides here: those who believe (or want to believe) that witchcraft is to blame and those who would rather use more logical means of finding out the problem. Parris has sent for Hale. Parris is convinced that Hale will confirm witchcraft exists in Salem because Hale has been through this before: "He has much experience in demonic arts . . ." 

Putnam basically demands that when Hale arrives, they should use his arrival to look for signs of witchcraft. Putnam's mind is made up. Proctor and others (Rebecca) are skeptical. In the paragraphs that introduce Hale to the reader, we learn that he had an encounter with a so-called witch but this turned out to be "a mere pest." Still, Hale believes witchcraft may exist and Parris intends to use Hale to support the view that witchcraft is a problem in Salem. Hale is sent for because he is an authority on witchcraft. 

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Why does Reverend Hale visit the prison in The Crucible?

Hale is in Salem because Parris has asked him to come. Hale is older and more experienced in identifying witchcraft.

Miller (in one of the many excerpts that interrputs the dialogue) writes that Hale was eager to come, it was "a beloved errand" and "he felt the pride of the specialist whose unique knowledge has at last been publicly called for."

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