Student Question

What does this quote reveal about Hale's character and its significance?

"Let you not mistake your own duty as I mistook my own. I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion the very crowns of holy law I bought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died, where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood followed up."

Expert Answers

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Engaging in religion can be as sinful as maintaining a heathen or pagan lifestyle. Even in our society today, churches and mosques and synagogues are filled with people who go through the motions of religion in order to satisfy a particular longing of theirs to just do it as if it is necessary to check a mark off the list.

Hale performed the duties of his ministry with pride and thought himself to be quite the intellectual as did the people he served. However, somewhere along the line, TRUTH caught hold of him. This happens for people in many faiths. They do it in the beginning because someone else encouraged them to. But at some point, there comes a defining moment wherein the whole-heartedly choose the life of the faith, which relies more on the faith, and not the ritual of the religion.

Hale could not escape the conviction in John Proctor. This man would not lie to save his life because he was trying to do right by God. I think as Hale looked at himself, he probably would have lied in John Proctor's shoes. This moved Hale to watch a common man so set in relationship or faith as opposed to ritual.

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Hale comes into Salem proud of his intellectualism and expertise of witchcraft. He proudly carries books weighted with authority. Initially, he seeks to find any evidence of demonic arts and deal with it in the appropriate fashion. However, as time goes on and the village suffers from a growing hysteria, Hale begins to reconsider.

Although initially suspicious of Proctor and Elizabeth, Hale’s investigation into the allegations later leads him to believe Proctor’s innocence and that Abigail is untrustworthy. Later, he begins to see the court as serving a great injustice to the village and begins to feel guilty about his part in initially buying into Abigail’s persecutions, which perpetuated the hysteria. In fact, he feels so guilty that at the end of the work he begins persuading prisoners to confess falsely to witchcraft simply to save their lives.

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