The Crucible is a 1953 play written by a prominent American playwright Arthur Miller. The book is concerned with the topic of witch trials taking place in the city of Salem, the Province of Massachusetts Bay, 1692-1693; it features a number of characters, some of whom depict the real people living in that period. One such character is Reverend John Hale, a pastor and state official who is famous for acting against witch trials after being initially their proponent. In this paper, we will discuss the personality of Mr. Hale the character, and attempt to decide what kind of people he represents.
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Mr. Hale’s personality is somewhat controversial; while readers might not like him initially, with time, it becomes apparent that he is a positive character rather than a negative one. He possesses a number of features that are usually considered good; he is a determined, focused, and attentive person who addresses the issues that brought him to Salem thoroughly and responsibly. He is determined to do what he considers to be good, for which purpose he possesses rather a considerable amount of knowledge gained by studies.
What the readers might not like in Mr. Hale is that he is not devoid of conceit. He does not only wish to do good; he also seeks to be praised and admired by society. His studies and his actions are driven not only by the intent to get knowledge and help the society but also (and perhaps even primarily) by the desire to be recognized. However, it might be stated that in reality, few individuals are only motivated by the wish to do good.
People are not to be blamed for the desire to be admired; it is different from, for instance, the wish to dominate. As long as it is accompanied by the intention to do good rather than by the tolerance of or indifference to adversity, it might motivate persons to act in ways that benefit society.
Another feature that the readers might dislike Mr. Hale for is that he is a specialist in witch studies and demonology, the disciplines aimed at prosecuting innocent women for the fictional actions. (It should not be forgotten that the book was written in 1953, when the tales about evil witches were usually met with a solid degree of skepticism.) However, it should be taken into account that in the society in which Mr. Hale lived, the idea that witchcraft is a fiction, even if this idea existed, was simply too radical to be taken seriously. Indeed, “better minds than Hale’s were… convinced that there is a society of spirits beyond our ken” (Miller 33).
The authorities such as the church and theology persuaded everybody and were themselves convinced, that witches, the Devil, etc., are real; disbelieving, this was laughable in the educated world, and also dangerous. Thus, the belief that witches exist is a feature for which Mr. Hale, as a man of his time, cannot be blamed for.
It is important, however, that later in the play, Mr. Hale demonstrates open-mindedness rather than dogmatism. Despite his strong convictions, he is willing to accept the possibility that there is something wrong with what he beliefs in. He says: “theology is a fortress; no crack in a fortress may be accounted small” (Miller 67); he does not insist that there might be no cracks. Later in the book, when the witch trials take place, he is one of those who choose to side with the wrongly accused when he sees the wrong of it, rather than persist in his dogmas.
Therefore, it is possible to state that Rev. John Hale is a positive character. He represents those people who are generally quite intelligent, thorough and diligent; who, in spite of some selfish motives, are not willing to tolerate adversity or, even worse, to be indifferent to it; and who are willing to reconsider their beliefs in the presence of the evidence that casts doubts on these convictions.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. n.d. Web.