The Crucible

To transform; to convert; to alter, or to make different. In literature, modern day and old, there is characterization, and changes in characters in the stories we read. Characters can stay the same, but many change their perspective and attitude towards the plot.

These characters often play a major role in the plot. In Arthur Miller’s, The Crucible, Reverend Hale undergoes many changes throughout the course of the play. In the play, the town of Salem is said to have witches. Reverend Parris of Salem doesn’t know how to handle the situation, so he summons Reverend Hale, who is said to be able to cast out the Devil. In the beginning act of the play, Reverend Hale is confident, powerful, and proud.

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Upon his arrival, he requests his books to be carried, which are very heavy. “They must be; they are weighted with authority” (Miller, I, 1105). He is a man who believes he is above the power of the Devil. “Here is all the invisible world, caught, defined, and calculated. In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. Here are all your familiar spirits- your incubi and succubi, your witches that go by land, by air, and by sea; your wizards of the night and of the day.

Have no fear now- we shall find him out if he has come among us, and I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown his face” (Miller, I, 1107)! He is fearless towards the Devil, and whatever Salem may have to offer. He is so focused on being right, and being a leader that he doesn’t realize the insanity of the situation until later in the play. When the first “witch” is found, he addresses her. “Tituba. You must have no fear to tell us who they are, do you understand? We will protect you.

The Devil can never overcome a minister. You know that, do you not” (Miller, I, 1110)? Reverend Hale is again showing his fearlessness towards the Devil. As the play continues, more and more women are being accused of witchcraft. Reverend Hale is beginning to question the validity of the accusations, and goes investigating on his own. “No- no, I come of my own, without the court’s authority. Hear me.

I know not if you are aware, but your wife’s name is- mentioned in the court” (Miller, II, 1120). He is speaking to a friend, John Proctor, about his wife, Elizabeth Proctor. Hale is a member of the court, a minister, and he is beginning to turn against those that to get to the bottom of things. Madness overcomes Salem as the play comes to a close, and as the audience we understand that the witchcraft is pretend, but the court denies pretense and continues hanging witches. Reverend Hale is frustrated, angry, and in awe of the insanity of the court.

“I denounce these proceedings! I quit the court” (Miller, III, 1151)! He knows that it is pretense, and is sickened that innocent people are losing their lives. John Proctor has been accused, and will be put to death if he does not confess to witchcraft. Hale desperately wants to save his life, so he talks to Elizabeth. “Let you not mistake your 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 brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up.

Beware, Goody Proctor- cleave to no faith when faith brings blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God’s most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it. I beg you, woman, prevail upon your husband to confess. Let him give his lie.

Quail not before God’s judgment in this, for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride. Will you plead with him? I cannot think he will listen to another” (Miller, IV, 1159). Reverend Hale, a minister, is begging for a man to lie. He has lost all hope for Salem. Reverend Hale goes from an authoritative man, to a defector- which is what any sane person would have done.

In the beginning he is a confident leader. By the middle of the play he is suspicious, and less confident. In the end he knows it is pretense and is desperate. He is angered by the actions of the court. Reverend Hale is a wise man throughout the play, but displays his wisdom differently by the end. The Crucible is a great example of characterization and the changes a person can undergo in trials.