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Reverend John Hale and his function in the Crucible

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Introduction

By Kaylie Reakes 10YM Arthur Miller's `The Crucible' was written in 1953. Miller took the basis of the Salem witch-hunt and wrote a play that draws a parallel between this event and the McCarthyism that was gripping America at the time. In February of 1950 Senator Joseph .R McCarthy accused the State department of employing Communists, without any evidence. Years of intense and often hysterical speculation throughout the United States about the supposed influence of Communism then followed, including high profile trials such as the Hiss case. Although his accusation was never substantiated, during the next three years he repeatedly accused various high-ranking officials of subversive activities, and it was a measure of the atmosphere of the times that his charges were taken seriously. He was eventually discredited and the word "McCarthyism" came to refer to accusations of subversive activities without any evidence. The Salem witch trials were held in 1962, in Massachusetts, a small puritanical community. In the May of that year a series of investigations and persecutions caused 19 convicted witches to be hanged and many other suspects to be imprisoned. Reverend John Hale is an 'eager-eyed intellectual', 'nearing forty', who has spent a 'good deal of time pondering the invisible world'. He is a sincere and kindly man who's main failing is to have complete faith in those who rule by the laws of God. ...read more.

Middle

He is embarrassed at having to cross-question respectable families but is still convinced that his interpretation of events is correct. The fact that he is making his own enquiries suggests he feels uneasy about the witch-hunt and he is striving to find the truth. It is clear that he believes in witches but he is uncertain about the accusations. He has just come from Rebecca Nurse's house as she has been mentioned in court although not charged. He disagrees with Proctor when he says he finds it impossible to believe that 'so pious a woman' could be a 'Devils bitch' but Hale reminds him that the 'Devil is a wily one'. Hale then questions the Proctors to test the Christian character of the house. The minister questions John Proctor about his absence from church and Proctor reveals his strong dislike of Parris saying, he sees 'no light of God in that man'. Hale then asks why only two of his three boys have been baptised, Proctor replies that he did not want Parris to lay hands on his son but he had helped with carpentry on the church and this impresses Hale. Hale asks the Proctors if they know their commandments. They both answer yes and he asks John Proctor to repeat them. ...read more.

Conclusion

He finally faces up to his part in the arrests and says 'there is blood on my head. Hale has tried to do what he believes to be right and can admit his mistakes but he is a weak man. He gives up his principles and lacks the courage of the victims. Hale's function throughout the play changes dramatically. In Act One he stands for intelligent, educated people. Arthur Miller needed someone with authority to have responsibility for setting off events, and as it is too early to bring in the judges the role falls on Hale. In Act Two Hale visits the houses of the accused querying their Christian faith. Here Hale is different and he feels a little guilty as he feels his original convictions were wrong. Hale is unable to suppress what his conscience and common sense are telling him and he speaks against the court, but they brush aside his complaints and Hale quits the court. Hale is a broken man by Act Four. He realises that he is responsible for the deaths. To try and clear his conscience he tries to persuade the prisoners to confess but Proctor and the others show bravery and courage as they die for their belief in their principles. Hale is perhaps the most pitiable character in the play. His self-knowledge brings a weight of guilt that will haunt him for the rest of his life. ...read more.

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