The Crucible The Evolution of a Truth Seeker A crucible is a severe test as of patients or belief, a trial. The play The Crucible is a journey through the trials of many townspeople caused by the superstitious belief of witchcraft. In The Crucible, Arthur Miller progresses and evolves the outlooks and views of the townspeople of Salem and shows how events, people, and catastrophes cause the characters to change their views on whether the people prosecuted were guilty or innocent of witchcraft.
Reverend John Hale changes his view, more and more drastically as the play advances, as a result of the events that he underwent and the experiences he had. Soon he had total belief in the innocence of all those convicted and hung in Salem. Arthur Miller weaves many events into the story that contribute to the alteration in Hale’s mindset. In the middle of Act 1, Hale arrives and is perceived by the town as “The truth seeker”. Hale is called upon to determine what sort of witchcraft, if any, is occurring (Page 33-35). Hale arrives admired by the people, who all want him to claim it was witchcraft that has occurred.
Although unsure, he understands he is being led toward the conclusion of witchcraft by the town’s false pretences and mass hysteria. He begins to see a weakness in the position of the townspeople of Salem and tries to not let common accusations be the support for his diagnosis. The conversations that Hale has demonstrate the evolution of his mindset. In Act II, Hale is traveling around the town, going house-to-house, searching for accused women to warn them that their names have been mentioned in the court. Soon, Hale finds himself standing at the Proctor home. At this moment, Hale sees a different perspective on the entire situation.
“Proctor: I – I have no witness and cannot prove it, except my word be taken. But I know the children’s sickness had naught to do with witchcraft. Mr. Parris discovered them sportin’ in the woods.
They were startled and took sick. Hale: Who told you this? Proctor: Abigail Williams.”(Page 68-69) Originally, Hale was only provided evidence that witchcraft was occurring in the town. Now that he has visited the Proctor’s home, he finds more support for his suspicion of the girls’ claims as he finds truth in the words of John Proctor. “Abigail Williams told you it had naught to do with witchcraft .. Why – why did you keep this? ..
Nonsense! Mister, I have myself examined Tituba, Sarah Good, and numerous others that have confessed to dealing with the Devil. Thy have confessed it .. And you – would you testify to this in court?”(Page 68-69) No longer believing that Abigail and her crew were correct, Hale finally opens his eyes to the new possibility that those who confessed did it for the sake of not being hung. Hale sees the honesty in Procter and believes he is able to trust his word and at last not be as closed-minded about the witchcraft situation in Salem. Abigail Williams and her crew are now appearing in the court.
Hale is really perceiving the show that the girls are putting on. Danforth may not be recognizing the lies of the children, but Hale become convinced that the claims of the children are false. “I denounce these proceedings. I quit this court”(Page 120). Hale is becoming frustrated with the mass hysteria of the town and fed up with the lies of the girls.
He can see the lack of truthfulness in all of the testimonies and court appearances of the girls. Later, Hale stands up for his belief in the innocence of the victims even though they have been forced to admit their guilt (Page 130). “You will confess yourself or you will hang” (Page 117). “Postponement means a floundering on my part”(Page 129). He starts to realize that the court although, apparently truthful and fair, can be misleading and forceful in finding the guilt or innocence of a person depending on what the court desires.
Miller uses the strongest form of influence possible to finally sway Hale into total belief in the innocence of those convicted in Salem. The deaths of the people served as an enormous influence on the opinion of Hale, eventually to the point where Hale has no belief that any of those in the town are bewitched. As Hale stands and awaits the death of Proctor, he knows that Proctor is innocent (End of Act IV). There is no doubt in his mind that witchcraft has not occurred in the town of Salem. Hale now sees that many have died without cause and that those who have been hanged, even Giles Corey who died on the stone, were innocent.
Hale stands before the man who opened his eyes to more than pretense and lies. He is now looking at the one man who changed his belief in the existence of witchcraft in Salem. Hale begs Elizabeth to plead with Proctor to save him, but Elizabeth cries, He have his goodness now. God forbid I take it from him!(End of Act IV). Proctor and Rebecca Nurse are then led to hang. Hale now has a great feeling of regret that he didn’t effect and help save the town from the childish lies that killed so many.
Entering these trials, Reverend John Hale feels as though he is an expert in witchcraft. He is specifically called upon by Reverend Parris to diagnose his daughter and determine whether witchcraft is the cause of her illness. Although inconclusive about the nature of the child’s illness, Hale has a slight feeling of doubt that witchcraft has occurred. From the beginning, Hale has tried to not let the pressure of the hysterical town influence his decision. Due to the increase in activity of the witch trials, Danforth and others are sent in and Hale quickly loses his authoritative position in the town. As he watches the trials and the hangings of the townspeople, Hale comes to see that the entire witch trial was a hoax and regrets he didn’t make more of an impact, and sooner, on the “Bewitched” town of Salem.