An Individual\'s Achievement of Self-Knowledge

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. Hale\'s
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. He denounces the entire proceeding and leaves.
Ironically, Rev. Hale returns to Salem to encourage the accused to lie in
order to save their lives.

The documentation above shows that Hale\'s beliefs changed dramatically
as a result of the injustices of the court. He became a man of reason who
experienced a growth in knowledge and had the courage to stand up for what he
believed in, even though his individualistic view opposed the teachings of
Puritan society. Unfortunately, his courage could not save John Proctor, Rebecca
Nurse, or the countless others who were unjustly tried, tortured, and hanged.

Category: Social Issues