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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 meÖ" (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.
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Salem witch trials, The Crucible, John Hale, John Proctor, Salem, Witch-hunt, Witchcraft, Elizabeth Proctor, Matthew Hale
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