“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 remark, as Hale’s expertise and own belief is in witchcraft. But I think Arthur Miller is trying to get the historical message across, that the Putnams’ relied on simple interpretations of the Bible. Hale is counselling against acting on accusations without proof.
When Giles Corey mentions to Reverend Hale with curiosity that his wife Martha, reads a lot of books and it stops his prayer. Hale is intrigued by this and wants to know more.
After this Reverend Hale tries to awake Betty. He tells Mrs. Putnam to stand next to the window in case she tries to fly. But the interesting thing is that Reverend Hale chants some Latin:
“Domini Sabaoth sui filique ite ad infernos.”
He has read this from one of his books on the ‘Invisible world’. Reverend Hale then questions Abigail about was this anything to do with their dancing in the forest, this leads on to Hales questioning of Abigail.
Reverend Hale questions Abigail about the dancing in the woods. Hale wants immediate answers from Abigail and he knows how he is going to get them. I think Arthur Miller shows this other side of his character to show the great change in his character as the play continues. Abigail, looking for a scapegoat to get herself out of trouble, soon points the finger at the black slave woman from Barbados, Tituba. This then leads to Reverend Hale questions Tituba.
But, instead of immediately questioning Tituba, like he did with Abigail, he calmly and contently tries to get her out of the devil’s grasp. But, it’s as if he believes Abigail’s side of the story, without even listening to Tituba’s. Finally he thinks he breaks her free from the devil and Reverend Hale rejoices and says:
“Glory to God! It is broken, they are free!”
Throughout all of this, Reverend Hale keeps getting interrupted and his concentration is being disturbed. I think this is starting to annoy and aggravate Reverend Hale and the Putnams’ are mainly to blame. It is an annoyance to him because the Putnams think they know the subject as well as Reverend Hale does, which he probably feels that they are questioning his intelligence. Reverend Hale is trying to judge the situation of the dancing in the forest but the Putnams’ and Parris’ reactions are very distracting for him. For example, this is one of Mrs. Putnam’s dramatic lines:
“This woman must be hanged! She must be taken and hanged!”
Act 2, is set at the Proctors’ house. Reverend Hale enters the Act about a third of a way through. When he appears, we can see some guilt across his face. Maybe he is beginning to realize that not all these people can really be tainted with witchcraft. Reverend Hale makes it very clear that he has gone to their house of his accord and is not on business of the court:
“I am a stranger here now. And in my ignorance, I find it hard to draw a clear opinion of those accused before the court. And this afternoon and now tonight, I go from house to house.”
This is Arthur Miller’s way of telling the audience why he’s at the Proctors house, to judge the Proctors.
Reverend Hale is very prominent in the way in which he says that his visit is without the court’s authorization. I think the playwright has put this in to point out that he is having his doubts about the court. I think this revelation makes the audience think that for a man of his background and beliefs, to act without ‘authority’ indicates that his faith in the justice of the court proceedings has been severely shaken. Demonstrating Reverend Hale’s private integrity, he carries out his personal investigation of the Proctors’, where their house is free from the hysteria that surrounds the girls and the courts.
Arthur Miller deliberately uses irony, when Reverend Hale questions John and Elizabeth on their knowledge of the Ten Commandments. John manages to say all but one, ‘thou shall not commit adultery.’ I think it’s quite clear that Reverend Hale knew and was quite confident that Elizabeth would remember all of the commandments, but he suspects that John may not remember them as much as his wife.
But, just as Reverend Hale was leaving the Proctors’, Elizabeth forced John to tell the Reverend about his conversation with Abigail. I think Arthur Miller, includes this because he wants us to see yet another side to Reverend Hale. As he had wondered why John had not told him about this important piece of information earlier and he feels somewhat deceived. Reverend Hale then reassured himself, that what Proctor is saying:
“It had naught to do with witchcraft.”
It can not be true, as he examined Tituba himself and she has confessed to have dealings with the devil.
Giles Corey comes with news that his wife has been arrested. Then Ezekiel Cheever comes to the Proctors’ house to arrest Elizabeth. Reverend Hale stays quite quiet in all of this. But he still has faith in the court as he is constantly saying to John about Elizabeth:
“If she is innocent, the court will –“
Finally at the end of Act 2, I think the playwright wants the audience to note, that Reverend Hale feels guilty and uncertain. The playwright wants the audience to think, well what has brought him to this state? The earlier arrests of insignificant people such as Goody Good and Goody Osborn had not bothered him much, but the current defendants like Martha Corey, Rebecca Nurse and now Elizabeth Proctor have perhaps given him something to think about.
Act 3, is set in Salem meeting house for the court. In this Act, we see a completely different side of Reverend Hale. He starts to realize that these simple men and woman could not perform and sort any sort of witchcraft.
Firstly, we see a somewhat different Hale in Act 3 than the earlier Acts. Even though he is an official of the court, it is like, he is defending those who are accused of witchcraft. For example when Giles tries to submit to the court that there are lies are being told about his condemned wife, Martha Corey. Hale says:
“Excellency, he claims hard evidence for his wife’s defense. I think that in all justice you must – “
Hale wants to hear about every little fact and opinion now, whereas Danforth, just want to get on with the trial, with no interference. I think the playwright presents Reverend Hale like this because, it’s showing in detail this great change in the Reverend and this is to show that at least one important person knows that the girls are not being bewitched by anyone or anything.
Reverend Parris and Reverend Hale have an obvious disagreement which strongly contrasts with their first meeting. To a certain extent their roles have been reversed, with Reverend Parris expressing certainty about the witches in his words. For example:
“All innocent and Christian people are happy for the courts in Salem” Though his manner is often less confident and Hale is now almost the sceptic.
Reverend Hale’s peace of mind is disturbed by the actions of the court and by Danforth’s declaration that there is a ‘moving plot to topple the Christ in the country.’ Also Reverend Parris accuses the men of trying to topple the court. We can see that because of this, Reverend Hale is starting to doubt the court very much.
Hale, like Danforth, has been quite impressed by Proctor’s evidence and by his calm and dignified manner. This is a very different John Proctor from the one we saw in earlier scenes, when he was full of self-pity and anger. The audience can see Reverend Hale’s sensitivity to what is happening, which also makes the audience a little more sympathetic to him. But Arthur Miller quite clearly makes Hale reveal that he has just signed Rebecca Nurse’s death warrant. Hale says in guilt:
“I have this morning signed away the soul of Rebecca Nurse.”
This was the woman he was very much praising in the two earlier Acts. I think, Arthur Miller has deliberately done this, so the audience thoughts about Reverend Hale, suddenly gets mixed up, as we go from sympathy to shock.
After that the audience gets another shock. Reverend Hale stands up to the court and admits that he thinks the girls are fakes. First, he explains to Danforth, that it is a natural lie to tell, to save a husband from lechery. He says:
“I may shut my conscience to it no more, private vengeance is working through this testimony!”
Hale is saying that he cannot let this go and knowing that the girls are false. Hale then says about Proctor:
“I believe him! This girl has always struck me false!”
This is a significant part in the play for Reverend Hale, as he is confessing that he thinks all this is a fake and there is no witchcraft afoot in Salem.
Finally, at the end of Act 3, Reverend Hale made a very dramatic exit, He is distraught at the fact that Giles Corey and John Proctor were being taken to jail. Hale said in court with rage:
“I denounce these proceedings!”
This is his way of saying in open court, that Danforth, the Deputy Chief Governor of Massachusetts was wrong to condemn Proctor and Corey. To the audience’s surprise, Reverend Hale furiously says:
“I quit this court.”
The playwright has presented it like this, with slamming the door behind him, to make it a very dramatic piece of acting in the play. I think that, Reverend Hale’s final words, denouncing and then quitting the court, adds weight to the condemnation of John Proctor.
At the start of Act 4, Reverend Hale is still very out of favour with the authorities, yet he sits and prays with the condemned, showing that he still retains a sense of responsibility for the demands, of his ministry. Parris goes to those charged and prays with Reverend Hale. I think the playwright wants the audience to think that this is quite mysterious and strange, as they didn’t seem to be that friendly at the end of Act 3.
We now see that has a big change of priorities. Whereas previously Reverend Hale was concerned solely with saving souls and driving out the Devil, now he seems more interested in saving lives. I think the playwright expects the audience, like Reverend Hale, to appreciate the distinction between saving lives and saving souls.
In the middle of Act 4, Hales says:
“There is blood on my head.”
I think this comment shows a sense of guilt evident about Reverend Hale. He has severed his connections with the court and is determined to help the innocent. In trying to do so, he is forced to counsel men to lie, to confess to crimes of which they are innocent.
Reverend Hale tries hard and pleads with Elizabeth to persuade her husband John, to lie in order to spare his life. He appears to have lost sight of his religious duty to save souls, not bodies. He misjudges John when he condemns his decision as stemming from his pride or vanity. Hale says to Elizabeth:
“I come of my own, Goody Proctor. I would save your husband’s life, for if he is taken I count myself his murderer.”
In a sense, perhaps the audience could think Reverend Hale wants the confessions for selfish reasons, so he no longer has blood on his conscience. In this respect, he compares quite compactly with Reverend Parris.
In conclusion, I chose Reverend Hale to study in ‘The Crucible’ because I thought he was the most interesting and unique character. My main fascination about him was the large transformation of his character throughout the play.
In Act 1, Hale entered Salem with dignity and the knowledge that he was going to see whether there was any witchcraft about in Salem, and to force out the devil. But in Act 4, we see a completely different Reverend Hale. He is still mentally very strong, but is losing his battle against the court to stop the executions from taking place.
Compared to the other characters, Reverend Hale has so much depth and character to him. Even, though he doesn’t play a particular huge part in the play, he is probably the most interesting.