An important theme is an individual's achievement of self-knowledge as a result of
undergoing an ordeal. As Rev. Hale sits through the proceedings of the court in the play
The Crucible by Arthur Miller, his views change drastically.
When Rev. Hale first arrives in Salem, he is very objective about the whole
situation of witchery. He questions Tituba and Abigail about all the events that occurred in
the forest such as the girls' dancing and the frog in the kettle. He firmly believes that
witchery was involved in causing the unresponsive condition of Betty Parris. He coaxes
a confession from Tituba who names others supposedly involved in consorting with the
Devil. He strongly encourages the authority of the Church to seek out and convict any
unknown enemies of the Church. The Salem witchcraft trials began as a result. At first,
only the poor and lower classes were accused, but soon respectable members of the
community such as Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor were charged.
personal feelings tell him that they are innocent, but his Puritan background prevents
him from questioning the authority of the court.
As the play progresses, Hale begins to alter his views about the trials. He suggests
that John Proctor should have a lawyer, but this request is denied by Danforth. He claims
that a lawyer is not necessary because only the demon and the witness are important.
Actually, he is conveying that the court alone will decide on the witness' probity based on
his own words. Hale realizes that John Proctor is an honest man when he would willingly
ruin his own reputation in the hopes of exposing Abigail as a whore. He absolutely cannot
believe that the court won't accept his testimony as the truth. Hale thinks that the children
are irresponsible fakers.