The Crucible the Effect of Salem on Reverend Hale
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is a play that takes place in the 1690’s during the infamous witch trials. Reverend Hale, a minister from East Hanover, is sent to Salem to exercise his expertise on the demonic arts and witchcraft. When Hale arrives in Salem, he discovers the town in total calamity. Hale is sent to help remove the source of this chaos but is dragged in instead. In the play, Reverend Hale’s change from immensely confident to defeatedly remorseful becomes evident through his own statements, other characters’ reaction to him, and the use of stage directions.
Reverend Hale Arrives in Salem
In Act 1, Reverend Hale is brimming with confidence. Before Hale arrives, people know that dealing with witchcraft is a beloved errand for him. This errand is described as beloved because witchcraft is the skill that he is known for; it shows that he loves this job and is confident in his s ability. This reaction, by the people, portrays how great he is in this line of work. All the people of Salem cower when confronted with witchcraft. Hale, however, approaches witchcraft fearlessly. From the moment he walks in, he claims that [his books] are weighted with authority. Hale gives this remark with two meanings. One is that they are physically heavy and by carrying them, he expresses his strength. But the other represents that the books are weighted with God’s justice, and for him to take on a role such as that, he needs to be confident and level-headed. He has such certainty in his ability that he gives himself authority.
How it works
Hale believes that he is able to hold the responsibility of handling witchcraft in Salem. Hale speaks while holding up his hands to illustrate his authority. These stage directions were given to demonstrate that Hale will lead the people of Salem with aplomb. Hale tells Parris and the Putnam’s that he will instruct them. Hale is self-assured that he can lead Salem without fail. He is sure that his mental state during this won’t crumble like the people of Salem. He exercises his ability by spouting facts such as: The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone. Hale says this because it demonstrates his knowledge about the demonic arts, showing that he is intelligent, logical, is not quick to judge, and he analyzes the situation. To be able to control all of these aspects under pressure is why he is so prideful of his skill. In Act 1, Hale begins as confident, powerful, and doubtless in his ability as an intellect. Hale is portrayed as a character with unbreakable nature. Act 1’s emphasis on Hale’s confidence foreshadows his downfall in the future.
In Act 1, Hale leads to the accusation of numerous people and feels accomplished in the fact that he has taken care of the source of witchcraft. He believed that by sending them to court, he has accomplished his mission. Hale feels that he is helping the people of Salem by arresting them. In contrast to Act 1, Act 2 and 3 illustrate the downfall of Hale’s perfect, childlike view of the situation. Hale is beginning to learn that there are things beyond his capability. At the beginning of Act 2, Hale enters the Proctors’ home without the court’s authority. Hale returns from the court and after hearing the names of people who have shown no signs of witchcraft, he begins to doubt that he has truly accused the right people. He realizes that Elizabeth was called in the court and he is sure she is innocent. From here he realizes the flaw in the court system he originally believed was perfect. Doubt grows because he begins to believe that he is at fault. Also, he no longer views himself as the authority, rather that he is under the court’s authority. He loses confidence in himself and the responsibility that comes along with authority because innocent people are being hung and sent to jail.
After confronting the Proctors, Hale seems worried. He paces a little. These directions were added to express that he is doubting all his actions. Hale is regretting his decisions because innocent people were accused. These false accusations aroused Hale’s suspicion, but he resists it. Hale resists this because he is confused. He wants to believe that he is still helping people but his suspicion suggests otherwise, Hale’s confidence begins to deteriorate, and he is guilt-ridden. Hale’s doubt continues to grow into Act 3. When asked if he is doubting Danforth’s judgment, Hale replies in a defeated manner. This just shows how little fight Hale has left in him; he has given up all authority to Danforth. Later, Danforth replies, I will have nothing from you, Mr. Hale. Mr. Hale went from highly respected by all, to lower than every individual in the court. Danforth listens to Abigail more than he does Hale. This portrays how little faith the people have in Hale. Hale’s silence in response to this comment illustrates how little faith he has in himself. After coming to his conclusion that the court is flawed and he had accomplished nothing to save Salem, Hale quit[s] the court. Hale’s original trust in the court has lead to his defeat. As Hale exits the court, his confidence and power exit with him.
In Act 4, Hale is fully aware that his actions have led to the destruction of Salem’s society. His confident nature is gone and all that is left is a defeated husk. When described entering the scene in Act 4, Hale is steeped in sorrow, exhausted, and more direct than he ever was. Hale is completely different and changed from the other acts. His exhaustion and sorrow represent his defeat and by saying than he ever was, it implies that Hale is no longer confident but rather weakened. Hale’s remorse has taken over his every thought. As Hale’s sarcasm collapses, he yells, There is blood on my head! The stage direction adds emphasis that he has lost all humor. Hale loses all other characteristics and is consumed by remorse. He can only think about the blood on his head or the people he has killed. He did not directly kill them but is so regretful of his decisions that it is as if he killed them himself. He claims that if [John Proctor] is taken [Hale] counts [himself] for his murder. Hale is blaming the death of John, whom he has never hurt, on himself. This shows that Hale only see himself as the problem rather than the solution and his belief that he could ever save Salem is nonexistent. He feels that anything that came in contact with his bright confidence,died. He explains that he was confident, however, that confidence led to his demise. Hale speaks only depressingly in this final act and his character sounds defeated.
From the moment Hale enters Salem, his character developed from confident to remorseful. This change is shown through his actions, the reaction of others, and the stage directions. His change portrays the corrupting effects of Salem. Before entering Salem, Hale had a good reputation and was confident in his skill. He is well respected by many and even by many who haven’t seen but only heard of him. Now, he is seen as weak and is not given the same levels of respect. He constantly blames himself for everything and believes that his confidence brought the downfall of Salem. This shows how inaccurate knowledge, leads to confusion, that leads to demise. Hale’s poor knowledge of the situation led to the confusion between true witchcraft and ill-natured children, and later, the total destruction of Salem. Hale’s ideas were that of a paradox. He put so much belief into a system that in the end was its own enemy. The court system of justice was rather the reason for Salem’s fall.