Crucible Character Analysis

1702 words - 7 pages

In The Crucible by Arthur Miller, Reverend John Hale’s role in the witch trials changed from a confident and passionate proponent to a guilty and despairing dissenter. He entered the play with an eager air about him, and he was keen to use his expertise and knowledge in witchcraft and the Devil in order to dispel the evil witches who “trafficked with the Devil” (Miller 61) in the town of Salem. Furthermore, he was proud of the fact that he was called upon specifically to help out with Salem’s witch problem. However, toward the end of the play, he was “steeped in sorrow” (Miller 119) and “exhausted.” He realized too late that the accusations of the afflicted girls were just fabricated lies. Moreover, his mistake caused a countless number of innocent people to be thrown in jail and hanged. With this revelation clouding his mind and breaking his heart, he became an anguished man who regretted his actions that aided the conviction of numerous so-called witches. He fought against the witch trials after that, but his actions were inadequate. The witch trials still went on. Hale ended up being a character who opposed the witch trials, but instead of going against the court as aggressively as John Proctor, he begged the accused to confess in order to save their own lives. He believed that it was better to lie and live than deny and die.

Reverend John Hale’s changes in his diction reveal his shift from confident claims of witchcraft to determined denials of witchcraft as well as guilt. For instance, when he was describing the contents of his book in Parris’ home, he guaranteed with conviction, “Have no fear now,” (Miller 34) but later on he said to Danforth, “my hand shakes yet as with a wound.” (Miller 92) This shows the huge contrast between when he first came to Salem and when he later realized his appalling part in the witch trials. Furthermore, his confident statement shows that Hale believed that what he was doing was right, but his shaking hands later display the immense guilt he felt once he realized the wrong in what he was doing. Also, Hale assured, “The Devil can never overcome a minister” (Miller 43) yet he exclaimed with sarcasm, “I come to do the Devil’s work” (Miller 121) later on. The irony in these statements show the magnitude of Hale’s change in attitude. They show how a convinced man who believed that he could withstand the Devil changed into a man who believed his actions were so evil that they were like the Devil’s own endeavors. Additionally, when John Proctor tried to convince Hale that the afflicted children’s sickness was not because of witch craft, Hale was skeptical. Hale replied, wide-eyed, with, “Abigail Williams told you had naught to do with witchcraft!” (Miller 65) He repeated Proctor’s statement in disbelief and as a declaration instead of a question. This shows his surprise and dubiety in Proctor’s statement because he echoed Proctor’s assertion as though repeating it would show how ridiculous and false Proctor’s...

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