The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller is a dramatisation of the events which took place in Salem, a small, Massachusetts town in 1692. The play is based around real historical events and show how they affected the inhabitants of Salem. To fully understand how or why these events happened in Salem, we must look at the religious beliefs of the inhabitants at the time. They were Puritans who had very strong beliefs in witches and the devil and also believed that the bible had instructed them that witches must be hanged.
This strong faith in their religious beliefs led to bottled up frustrations and hatred coming out in the hysteria of the witch hunt. The events of 1692 have been linked by Miller to the witch hunt of communist sympathisers in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s in America. Led by the chairmanship of Senator Joseph McCarthy an organisation called the House Un-American Activities Committee became almost paranoid in its seeking out of these communist sympathisers amongst the American people.
People were arrested by the committee and asked to name people who they had seen at communist meetings. Miller linked these public confessions with the naming of names at Salem in 1692. The events do not affect some of the characters, they seem as though they have no emotions whatsoever, but others such as Reverend Hale change throughout the play. In this essay I am going to trace the character of Hale through each act and state how he has changed. We first meet the character of half mid-way through Act One.
He has been called from the town of Beverly by Reverend Parris. “He appears loaded down with half a dozen heavy books. ” Hale feels as though he has all the knowledge he needs in his hands to find out if the devil is actually loose in Salem. “… they are weighted with authority. ” This shows that Hale is confident that he has enough authority and knowledge to do his job but could also show that he is slightly naive for thinking that all the answers could be contained in some books.
Hale keeps an open mind by telling people that there could be a number of reasons behind Betty’s inertness. “We cannot look to superstition in this. The devil is precise; the marks of his presence are definite as stone. ” When Hale uses the books, he believes fully that they contain all the information and answers to the problems that lay before him. “In these books the Devil stands stripped of all his brute disguises. “