The Crucible: The Evil of FearIn The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, the strict Puritancommunity of Salem is bombarded with the hysteria of witchcraft. It starts whenfive young girls of Salem are caught dancing in the forest. Instead as merechildren playing, this behavior is viewed upon by the Puritans as the work ofthe devil. As the hysteria builds momentum, more and more accusations radiate. Reverend Hale, a well known expert on witches, is brought into Salem to’cleanse’ the town of it’s evil.
At the beginning of the play, Hale leads theonslaught of punishment for the accused; but by the end, he radically changeshis views, denouncing the court and its proceedings. At first, Hale believes that the witch trials are necessary, and standsby them unconditionally. When he first comes to town, he concludes that Satanis at work. “And I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown face!” (p. 39) Haleshows his strong abhorrence toward evil.
He is willing to follow the church’sauthority to do anything to put a stop to it. While he is talking to Abigail, agirl who was caught dancing in the forest, he yells, “You cannot evade me”(p. 43) Hale expects to find evidence of witchcraft. This expectation leads himto early, not fully thought out conclusions.
Hale is determined to end thealignments these witches have with the Devil, and he knows the court is too. Later, Hale’s views on the courts change and he becomes less obedient toit’s decisions. When the judge finds out that John Proctor, an accused witch,plows on the Sabbath, he becomes disgusted; but Hale questions his authority. “Your Honor, I cannot think that you may judge the man on such evidence. ” (p. 78)Hale is slowly starting to see how much authority the judges have that they donot deserve.
He is becoming doubtful in their decisions. Hale, seeing thedanger Mr. Proctor is facing, begs, “In God’s name, sir, stop here; send himhome and let him come again with a lawyer-” (p. 85) Hale realizes the lack ofrepresentation that Mr. Proctor has. He does not want to see an innocent man beput in jail, or even worse, hanged.
Hale is starting to lose his alliance withthe courts. Finally, Hale becomes convinced that the trials are wrong, and he wantsto end them. When he is counseling Elizabeth Proctor, he pleads, “Let you notmistake your duty as I mistook my own. ” (p. 110) He knows that he has played amajor role in the trials by instigating them. He does not want her to allowthis mistake to continue, so he begs her to confess to the charges.
When theJudge does not listen to Hale’s request to end the trials, He exclaims, “Idenounce these proceedings, I quit this court!” (p. 101) Hale knows the graveerror these trials have caused, possibly innocent people being hanged. He doesnot want his name to be part of it. Hale willfully declares himself against thecourt. The Puritan’s strict way of life, and the rules the religion places onit’s society, leads to the fear that evil is thriving in Salem. Reverend Haleis caught in the middle, and while he thinks he is helping the Community withtheir problems, he is actually making them worse.
Eventually, he discovers histerrible mistakes, but by then, it is too late.