Hale – The Crucible


  • How he first appears in Act one loaded with heavy books
  • A little pompous ‘they are weighted with authority.’ P 40
  • Not convinced at first there’s witchcraft at the heart of this matter ‘I shall not proceed unless you are prepared to believe me should I find no bruise of hell upon her.
  • But is quickly persuaded that there is; but then he thinks it is sorted, ‘it is broken they are free.

Act two

  • He calls upon the Proctors to check their religious credentials.
  • Like the later judges he fails to see that there is any history to the various characters’ faults and lacks e.g. John forgets the commandment about adultery because it will reopen the wound in his relationship with Elizabeth.
  • His arrogance that the confessions ‘prove’ witchcraft is undermined by John pointing out the obvious in: ‘they have confessed it’…’And why not if they must hang for denying it… have you never thought of that?’…’I have. I..I have indeed…’
  • But when Francis Nurse tells how his wife is charged it undermines his confidence further: ‘Believe me Mr Nurse, if Rebecca is tainted then nothing’s left to stop the whole world from burning.‘ P 67
  • Hale [in great pain] ‘an hour before the devil fell, God thought him beautiful.‘ P 68
  • Proctor loses faith with Hale ‘You are a broken minister.’ And: ‘why do you never wonder if Parris be innocent or Abigail? Is the accuser always holy now?‘ and this hurts Hale’s self-confidence as well as faith. P 70

Act three

  • Hale is becoming increasingly desperate to get the court to be rational.
  • ‘Is every defence an attack upon the court? Can non one…?’ he isn’t allowed to finish but the implication is clear. P85
  • He attempts to explain what he sees now as the fear the towns people have of the court – that they are unwilling to testify for or against others for fear of being cried witch on. When Danforth demands Giles name his source and he withholds it, Hale steps in: ‘we can not blink it, there is prodigious fear of this court in the country.’ And to Danforth’s lack of understanding ‘But it does not follow that every accused is part of it.’ P88
  • Unfortunately he is ignored, humiliated and overturned by Danforth because he has his own agenda and because things have gone so far to turn back now would be ruin.

    3    When Proctor comes in with Mary Warren’s deposition Hale begs for a real lawyer for John whom he has come to respect as a symbol of virtue and solidity in the town. Danforth rejects his plea as criticism of his justice and Hale reveals his emotional turmoil at signing Rebecca Nurse’s death warrant that morning, but his arguments founder on Danforth’s unshakeable belief in himself ‘Unless you doubt my probity?’ Hale replies [defeated] ‘I surely do not sir.‘ P 89

  • (nb it isn’t until later in the film {not the play} that Abigail suggests that even ministers are not immune; in Arthur Miller’s screenplay she accuses Reverend john Hale of Beverly’s wife of sending out her spirit upon her; but when Danforth rejects her implied criticism of himself she loses her power and he regains his.)

    4    Hale meanwhile is silenced until Elizabeth is called to tell whether John has committed the sin of lechery. Her lie condemns them all and Hale is forced to jump to her defence: ‘Excellency it is a natural lie to tell… I may shut my conscience to it no more, private vengeance is working through this testimony.’ Here of course he has put his finger on the nub of the problem.

  • Danforth is stuck with the dilemma that if he casts a doubt upon Abigail then the convictions and deaths are spurious, his reputation will be lost.

    4    When Abigail does her final ‘little bird’ act, all is lost and Hale departs saying ‘I denounce these proceedings; I quit this court.’

Act four

  • P 113 [reverend Hale enters…he is steeped in sorrow, exhausted and more direct than he ever was.]
  • He is now unafraid to take Danforth on: ‘if you postpone a week and publish to the town that you are striving for their confessions, that speak mercy on your part, not faltering.‘ To which he responds after a time with ‘Why have you returned here?’ Hale all arrogance gone now says ‘why it is simple. I come to do the devil’s work. I come to counsel Christians that they should belie themselves. [his sarcasm collapses] There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head?
  • As a last ditch attempt at reparation he tries to get Elizabeth to persuade John to confess – not because he’s guilty but because of the insanity of the whole thing; by this time Hale has spent 3 months searching his conscience, ‘I have gone this three month like our lord into the wilderness’; the trials in Andover have been overturned and rationality is returning to the region. He says, ‘I would save your husband’s life for if he is taken I count myself his murderer.

    5    In an abject display of complete honesty he recounts how he came to the village ‘like a bride groom to his beloved… and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died.‘ His faith let him down it blinded him to life and now he begs her to know that ‘life is God’s most precious gift’ and ‘no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it.‘ In other words it should not be squandered in such a false way, ‘ for it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride.‘ He knows that John is refusing to confess on the principle that he is innocent, but Hale realises that John’s victory would be a hollow victory.

  • When Elizabeth shrugs it off the stage directions read that he argues [with a climactic desperation.]
  • When John finally writes the confession Hale is desperate for them to allow John to sign it only for himself rather than name all the others condemned with him. But they wait to long and John changes his mind again and rips it up. He chooses to die so his accusers lose. He has discovered his manhood, his goodness, his pride.
  • In a last appeal Hale begs: ‘Woman, plead with him….'[He starts to rush out the door and then goes back to her… he drops to his knees] ‘What profit him to bleed?’ But it is useless. He doesn’t quite grasp the significance of Proctor’s actions. He sees an innocent man dying for pride – Proctor sees his sacrifice as revenge and vindication – Parris will be discredited, Abigail has already lost and gone, Danforth will lose soon enough now and the Church has already begun to lose its strangle hold on the lives of its followers.
  • He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him.’

    6    Hale has lived up to John’s foresight ‘you are a broken minister,’ of their first meeting. His confidence undermined, his arrogance gone. The final stage directions read [Hale weeps in frantic prayer.] he hasn’t lost his faith in God but perhaps in human nature. Things are not the black and white he had come to Salem believing in. and he in his blind arrogance has contributed to the Church’s loss of power.


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