The Crucible by Arthur Miller is an allegory written about the Salem witch trials in 1692. It includes a number of characters who fully conform to the trials and their consequences, it also contains the opposite, those who do not conform and fight it. Of course, as in any story there are characters in the middle that are not sure which side to take. They go along with it, not willing to stand up, but in their minds they are not completely sure whether or not what they’re doing is right. Reverend Hale is the best example of outward conformity and inward questioning.
Hale does not start out as such however. In fact he is the reason the witch hunts are started. In the beginning of the play Hale is called to Salem to determine whether or not witchcraft is afoot. Witchcraft is expertise, and Hale, eager and naïve, wants to determine whether or not the devil is in Salem. His analysis is that Tituba is controlling the girls’ souls, leading the girls, starting with Abigail of course, to shout out various people they saw convening with the devil while they were under the control of Tituba. Hale, blindly and unquestioningly conforms to the rest of the town and believes the girls. In fact he leads the way, resulting in fourteen arrests. He is completely unphased by this, and wholly believes that they are all witches and that by arresting them he is doing God’s work.
In Act II Hale, in his true moral values which do not change throughout the course of the play, goes to each house questioning the inhabitants on their loyalty to Christianity. He winds up at the Proctor home, where he questions both John and Elizabeth, who are angry at the reasoning of the questioning. They find out that he has questioned Rebecca Nurse as well and this angers them further. He explains the reasoning for the questioning and states that Rebecca Nurse will not be arrested, and more importantly neither will Elizabeth. At that moment Francis Nurse comes running in saying that his wife Rebecca has been arrested. This is a shock to Hale, who at that moment realizes that he is no longer in control. His eagerness at being called to Salem made him fell like his years of training had come to fruition, he was an expert now, called to determine a town’s fate.
This little twitch in Hale’s faith sets him into a stage of doubt. He still does not go full-throttle though. He realizes the gravity of fully breaking from the court and consequently God. He defends the court’s decision to the townspeople on page 71:
“…though our hearts break, we cannot flinch, these are new times, sir. There is a misty plot afoot so subtle we should be criminal to cling to old respects and ancient friendships. I have seen too many frightful proofs in court-the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!”
The transformation is not yet complete. He...