In Arthur Miller?s The Crucible, Reverend John Hale significantly transfigures from a cold, boastful scholar into a sympathetic, redemption-seeking man after realizing the injustices he had brought upon people of Salem. First described as a ?nearing forty, a tight-skinned, eager-eyed intellectual,? Reverend Hale?s overpowering pride becomes obvious as he flaunts his knowledge of past experiences in witchcraft. Hale does not view witchcraft as an emotional, human problem, as he resorts to books for answers and not his heart nor instinct. Hale?s transformation, though regarded as substantial and ethical, unfortunately occurs too late in the play to save the lives of those he had brought death upon.
When Hale enters the play, he is quickly identified as a business man, complete with wordy books, who has come to Salem only to rid the townsfolk of demons and not to assist them emotionally or socially. He proudly states that he will rid Betty of the Devil even if he has to ?crush [the Devil] utterly? or ?rip and tear to get her [Betty] free.?
Hale?s pride and ignorance blinds him from seeing the town as it truly stands; a town ignited by Abigail?s false accusations and destroyed by the townspeoples? desires to avenge those they do not particularly like. Instead of realizing the chicanery brought on by foolish teens, Hale only provokes the suspicions of witchcraft while being the one responsible for the deaths of the accused.
As the play progresses, Hale recognizes the absurdity of the crimes he commits. He gathers that innocent people die because the townspeople are too afraid to look past the lies of juvenile women to discover the truth. The tragic downfall of Salem is obvious to Hale as he realizes that death prevails instead of justice. He clearly sees this dark cloud as ?There are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere...? Hale finally admits to the horrors which had occurred in Salem. He knows that he signifies the spark that started the fatal flame throughout Salem, and he tries to redeem himself. As a ?minister of the light,? he has "come to do the Devil's work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves. There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!!" The realization of his guilt unfortunately comes too late in the play as many have already died. Although Hale begs John Proctor, the last of the accused, to save his own life by confessing to a false crime, Proctor cannot be saved as he would rather die than to admit to a sin he did not commit. Hale recognizes that as a servant of God, he should be saving people?s lives, not taking them away.
Hale should not have narrowly defined witchcraft and his surroundings to the point where he would need to ?rip and tear? at a girl. Instead, Hale should have analyzed the town and people more psychologically to realize the foolishness of the situation. To serve the town and himself better, Hale could have focused more on the people instead of small detail of witchcraft found in his books. In Hale?s search for pride and worship, he lost his humanity along the way. Though Hale matures and thinks intelligently enough to realize the mistakes he had made, the lives which he had taken will probably haunt him for the rest of his life as they were not his to take.