This paper discusses The Crucible by Arthur Miller, as well as examines the character of Reverend Hale in the play.The Crucible by Arthur MillerThis paper discusses The Crucible by Arthur Miller, as well as examines the character of Reverend Hale in the play.Through the prose passages that interrupt the dialogue and action of the play, Miller establishes the particular quality of Salem society that makes it especially receptive to the repression and panic of the witch trials.
The Puritan life in Salem is rigid and somber, allowing little room for persons to break from the monotony and strict work ethic that dominated the close-knit society. Furthermore, the Puritan religious ethic permeated all aspects of society, promoting safeguards against immorality at any cost to personal privacy or justice.The Puritans of Massachusetts were a religious faction who, after years of suffering persecution themselves, developed a willful sense of community to guard against infiltration from outside sources. It is this paradox that Miller used to create a major theme of The Crucible.That is, in order to keep the community together, members of that community believe that they must in some sense tear it apart. Miller relates the intense paranoia over the integrity of the Puritan community.
This relates strongly to the political climate of the early 1950s in which Miller wrote The Crucible.In The Crucible, the character that sets the witchcraft trials in motion is Reverend John Hale. Indeed, Hale is perhaps the most complex character in The Crucible.He is a man "who approaches religious matters with the conviction of a scientist and a scientific emphasis on proper procedure" (Weales p.134).
Hale holds the contradictory belief that they cannot rely on superstition to solve the girls' problems but that they may find a supernatural explanation for the events. Since he lacks the malicious motivations and obsessions that plague the other instigators of the trials, Reverend Hale has the ability to change his position, yet he finds himself caught up in the hysteria he has helped to create.Near the end, Miller develops the motivations of the proponents of the witchcraft trials. Reverend Parris remains motivated by suspicion and paranoia, while Thomas Putnam moves from an original motivation of grudges.