The Crucible: The Evil of Fear


In The Crucible, a play written by Arthur Miller, the strict Puritan
community of Salem is bombarded with the hysteria of witchcraft. It starts when
five young girls of Salem are caught dancing in the forest. Instead as mere
children playing, this behavior is viewed upon by the Puritans as the work of
the devil. As the hysteria builds momentum, more and more accusations radiate.
Reverend Hale, a well known expert on witches, is brought into Salem to
\'cleanse\' the town of it\'s evil. At the beginning of the play, Hale leads the
onslaught of punishment for the accused; but by the end, he radically changes
his views, denouncing the court and its proceedings.
At first, Hale believes that the witch trials are necessary, and stands
by them unconditionally. When he first comes to town, he concludes that Satan
is at work. "And I mean to crush him utterly if he has shown face!" (p.39) Hale
shows his strong abhorrence toward evil. He is willing to follow the church\'s
authority to do anything to put a stop to it. While he is talking to Abigail, a
girl who was caught dancing in the forest, he yells, "You cannot evade me…"
(p.43) Hale expects to find evidence of witchcraft. This expectation leads him
to early, not fully thought out conclusions. Hale is determined to end the
alignments these witches have with the Devil, and he knows the court is too.
Later, Hale\'s views on the courts change and he becomes less obedient to
it\'s decisions. When the judge finds out that John Proctor, an accused witch,
plows on the Sabbath, he becomes disgusted; but Hale questions his authority.
"Your Honor, I cannot think that you may judge the man on such evidence." (p.78)
Hale is slowly starting to see how much authority the judges have that they do
not deserve. He is becoming doubtful in their decisions. Hale, seeing the
danger Mr. Proctor is facing, begs, "In God\'s name, sir, stop here; send him
home and let him come again with a lawyer-" (p.85) Hale realizes the lack of
representation that Mr. Proctor has. He does not want to see an innocent man be
put in jail, or even worse, hanged. Hale is starting to lose his alliance with
the courts.
Finally, Hale becomes convinced that the trials are wrong, and he wants
to end them. When he is counseling Elizabeth Proctor, he pleads, "Let you not
mistake your duty as I mistook my own." (p.110) He knows that he has played a
major role in the trials by instigating them. He does not want her to allow
this mistake to continue, so he begs her to confess to the charges. When the
Judge does not listen to Hale\'s request to end the trials, He exclaims, "I
denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!" (p.101) Hale knows the grave
error these trials have caused, possibly innocent people being hanged. He does
not want his name to be part of it. Hale willfully declares himself against the
court.
The Puritan\'s strict way of life, and the rules the religion places on
it\'s society, leads to the fear that evil is thriving in Salem. Reverend Hale
is caught in the middle, and while he thinks he is helping the Community with
their problems, he is actually making them worse. Eventually, he discovers his
terrible mistakes, but by then, it is too late.

Category: English