Comparing The Character Of Hale To Pontius Pilate In Arthur Miller's The Crucible

697 words - 3 pages

Pontius Pilate Indeed

The Crucible, a play by Arthur Miller, is set in Salem, Massachusetts. The hysteria begins with suspicion that a group of teenage girls found dancing in the forest are guilty of witchcraft. The reverend of Salem then calls on Reverend Hale, who hails from Beverly, to come ascertain the truth. Threatened with severe punishment girls tell lies that Satan had possessed them and falsely accuse others of working with the Devil. One of the girls has an infatuation with John Proctor, a married man, and her determination to get rid of his innocent wife, Elizabeth fuels the hysteria. Reverend Hale is a unique character because he is both a catalyst and a preventer of this hysteria. His main character flaw, like many a people, is failure to defend his beliefs. In order to characterize Hale as a naïve outsider, Miller shows Hale as misled because he defends the justness of the court and later as guilt-ridden because he realizes the court is false.
In portraying Hale as a naïve outsider, Miller uses the four methods of characterization to describe him as a misled stranger to the inner workings of Salem, Massachusetts. Hale’s own words and actions characterize him as misled or uninformed in relation to the hysteria. Since he is a “stranger [in Salem]” (Miller 198), Hale knows “it [will be] hard to draw a clear opinion” (198) those accused. He then “[goes] from house to house” (198) to learn more about the people of Salem because he does not trust his current knowledge them. Next, the narrator’s privilege of knowing the character’s thoughts reveals that despite “[him] [resisting] it” (200), “it is [Hale’s] own suspicion [that people are lying in order to live]” (200). He already has a notion, whether or not he admits to it, that the confessions of witchcraft given are false and serve only to save the lives of the accused seeing as an accusation is the same proof of guilt and the only way to avoid punishment is by confessing....

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