How does Arthur Miller present The character of Reverend Hale in 'The Crucible'.

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Lee Hiorns                                                        28th October 2003

English Coursework: How does Arthur Miller present

The character of Reverend Hale in

‘The Crucible’


        The Crucible is set in 1692, in a town called Salem, which is situated in the state of Massachusetts, on the North-east coast of America. The people of Salem lived in a very hostile environment, abiding by the rules under the religion of Puritanism. People there struggled to maintain their forms and live off the land. This subsequent destruction helped to lead the 1692 Salem witchcraft trials.         

The character I am going to study is Reverend John Hale of Beverly. He is a very learned man, with experience and a great interest in the demonic arts. Reverend Hale, as an outsider to Salem is quite respected by the villagers. He comes to Salem town to advise on whether the existence of witchcraft exists or not.

        Even before the character of Reverend Hale enters the play, he is somewhat mentioned quite a bit, by a few various characters. He is first mentioned by Reverend Parris who says he has called upon Reverend Hale to judge whether witchcraft’s afoot in Salem. Reverend Parris mentions him for a second time saying:

“I have no answer for that crowd, I’ll wait till Mr. Hale arrives”.

Arthur Miller uses lines like this to show that at the beginning some of the characters mainly Reverend Parris are dependent on Hale. Reverend Hale is mentioned twice by Thomas Putnam also. First, he enquires as to whether Reverend Hale will be coming to Salem, as I think he wants more information on the matter. Secondly, just after Rebecca Nurse is introduced to us the audience, he says:

“When Reverend Hale comes, you will proceed to look for sign of witchcraft.”

This is saying that Putnam is quite certain witchcraft is about and even if Reverend Hale denies witchcraft in Salem, he still wants them to carry on searching for sight of witchcraft and the devil. As all the characters were arguing Rebecca Nurse exclaims:

“Mr. Parris, I think you’d best send Reverend Hale back as soon as he comes.” I think Arthur Miller has mentioned the character of Reverend Hale to the audience before he actually enters the play because it describes a bit about his personality. He is quite an intelligent man, who looks as if he knows a lot about witchcraft and Reverend Hale will comes to sort it all out and see whether witchcraft is in flow in Salem town.

        As Reverend Hale enters the play, he enters with dignity and a sense which quickly tells the audience, the kind of man he is. He arrives, with about half a dozen heavy books, which shows us he is a very well educated and intellectual man. Also, I think the playwright has brought Reverend Hale into the Act carrying books, to make the audience note that he is well prepared for the job. He also says:

“We shall need hard study if it comes to tracking down the old boy.”

He is referring here to the devil and the books are full of all his capabilities, like his knowledge in the demonic arts.

        However, Reverend Hale is quite surprised to see who is standing around the room and already knows some of those present. There is quite a contrast between Putnam and Rebecca Nurse and they are recognized in different ways. Reverend Hale says openly:

Join now!

“Putnam, I had not expected such distinguished company, sir.”

I think the playwright makes Hale say this to show what kind of man Putnam was in Salem town; wealthy and respected by some. Reverend Hale makes Rebecca out to be very good, even though he says that he doesn’t actually know her, but he describes her charitable work and notes that her hospitality has been well noticed in Beverly.

        When Putnam starts making assumptions about Betty and Ruth’s conditions and whether they have been bewitched, he says:

“We cannot look to superstition in this.”

This may seem a rather strange ...

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