The Crucible


Reverend John Hale

Perhaps the most fascinating character in the play, Hale undergoes the most dramatic change over the course of the story. Though he appears reasonable and deliberate (very much in contrast to the emotional and hysterical Reverend Parris), he exhibits a certain pride and arrogance. He feels that his learning and heavy books give him an authority that cannot be questioned. He has no sense of ambiguity or of the limits of his own understanding. He claims that in his books the Devil is “stripped” of all his disguises, and that these books provide a nearly scientific method for identifying and defeating demonic spirits. While he at first appears cautious and reasonable, he is prone to making huge leaps and jumping to conclusions. As an outside “expert,” he lends the charges of witchcraft a great deal of credibility and plays a critical role in letting the whole affair get out of hand. By the second half of the play, however, he has undergone a profound change. The needless suffering brought on by the witch trials has worn down his arrogance, and he finally becomes what he first only appeared to be: a reasonable and fair man willing to give those who are accused the benefit of the doubt. In the final act, he displays genuine remorse for the role he has played in the whole tragedy.

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