Reverend Hale Is Not Guilty Essay

1122 words - 5 pages

​There are usually at least a few instances when a person gets wrongfully accused of something they did not do, whether it would be taking the last cookie out of the jar, picking their nose, or even something to the extremity of taking someone's life. A tragic, real-life example of this is when Michael Morton got sentenced to life in prison when he was falsely accused of murdering his wife. Twenty-five years later, he was eventually exonerated from prison by the use of DNA evidence. In Arthur Miller's ​The Crucible, while the witch trials were underway, situations like this were common occurrences. The play which took place in Salem, Massachusetts, was centered around many innocent people getting framed for witchcraft by licentious people who wanted to place blame on them due to jealousy or hatred for the sole purpose of revenge. The rumors quickly spreading through the town caused hysteria, defined by people behaving in an uncontrolled way due to fear or anger, eventually leading to nineteen righteous people being hung. Reverend Hale, a supposed expert on witchcraft was one of the main people to blame for the witch trials according to the vast majority of readers. Despite that, his probity becomes clearer and clearer when scrutinizing the text for its true meaning. After all, he was not responsible for the spread of the rumors about witchcraft, he began to realize the flaws in the Salem witch trials as the story progressed, and he tried to compel everyone condemned to death to confess to witchcraft to save their lives.
​When Hale makes his first appearance towards the end of Act 1, his first sign of innocence was shown. He does not immediately blame witchcraft as the source of Betty, Reverend Samuel Parris’s daughter, suddenly falling ill after dancing in the woods with Abigail, Tituba, and Ruth around a pot accused of being used for witchcraft. Upon his arrival at Parris's house, Parris leads him to Betty, who is lying inert on the bed. Parris began to tell him that she is trying to fly out of the window and he also says she cannot bear to hear the Lord's name, insisting it is a sure sign of witchcraft. Hale disagrees and responds, "No, no. Now let me instruct you. We cannot look into superstition in this. The Devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone, and I must tell you all that I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me if I should find no bruise of hell upon her" (Miller 38). This statement by Hale proves that he did not contribute to the exponential increase in the rumors of witchcraft. If he did not jump to accusing Betty of being a witch, then he would not succumb to the hysteria in the town and brand someone else as a witch. Readers commonly believe he was guilty because he contributed to the trials, but he said there could have been other reasons for Betty's illness instead of using witchcraft as a scapegoat.
​As the storyline progressed, Hale became aware of the silliness of the witch trials. For...

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