In the play ‘The Crucible’ by Arthur Miller, Reverend Hale makes an internal change throughout the story by shifting his opinion from being convinced the witchcraft was real to making the realization that it was all a ploy for vengeance towards other characters in the story.
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From the beginning when Hale was introduced, he gave a sense of authority when he came into a room. Hale was sent in from the town of Beverly to inspect the supposed hysteria passing through Salem. When he comes to check on Reverend Parris’ daughter, Betty, she was lying unresponsive on her bed. To emphasize the authority he holds, Hale brings his books along with him. The room falls quiet while Hale explains, “The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of hell upon her” (185). Hale believes that if he is to carry through with his work with diagnosing and curing Betty, everybody in the room must also share the faith that his words are true. He doesn’t want anyone to question his authority because he was sent for the sole purpose of assisting with discovering the reasoning behind Betty’s behavior. Without the reputation Hale holds with him, he would not have been requested by Parris and his diagnosis would not have been taken seriously by the people of Salem.
However, once the accusations began spreading around town from everyone about witchcraft running amok the people, Hale began to question if the stories were becoming facetious. Those who held grudges against one another started to accuse the other person of witchcraft so they would be hanged. While in the courtroom in Act III, Abigail and the girls were claiming to see a bird in the rafters that was being sent by none other than Mary Warren, who was conveniently on trial against Abigail. Hale began to catch onto the manipulative game the girls had been playing all along and immediately announced, “I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!” (227). The change in character Hale experiences is severe because he had such a strongly held belief regarding witchcraft in Salem before making the discovery that it was only pure hysteria that swept through the town. Had Hale not realized the witch trials were all a game, it would’ve never crossed his mind to withdraw from the trials because of his previous success in discovering witches. But over time, as he catches onto the true meaning behind the accusations, Hale’s character switches as he confronts the lies by denouncing the court proceeding. He was done with the blindfold of hysteria that covered the eyes of everyone in the town and the false accusations being made without a shred of reasoning behind them. Clearly, Hale’s mindset changed on the witchcraft. He initially holds a heavy belief in the trials, but as time progresses, he stops accepting the false statements made by the people of Salem.
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Reverend Hale as a Dynamic Character in Arthur Miller’s ‘The Crucible’.
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