Character Analysis Reverend Hale


Reverend Hale's faith and his belief in the individual divide him. Hales comes to Salem in response to a need. He is the "spiritual doctor" summoned to evaluate Salem. His job is to diagnose witchcraft if it is present, and then provide a necessary cure through conversion or by removing the "infected" inhabitants from Salem. Hale devotes himself to his faith and his work. His good intentions and sincere desire to help the afflicted motivate him.

Unfortunately, Hale is also vulnerable. His zeal for discovering witchcraft allows others, particularly Abigail, to manipulate him. The amount of evidence for witchcraft when he arrives in Salem overwhelms him. Although Hale remains determined not to declare witchcraft unless he can prove it, the expectations of the people of Salem sweep him up, and, as a result, he takes their evidence at face value, rather than investigating it himself.

The audience should not condemn Hale. Like Proctor, he falls — through his inaccurate judgments and convictions — but later attempts to correct his shortcomings. Hale is the only member of the court who questions the court's decisions. He is not a rebel, nor does he want to overthrow the court's authority, but he is striving for justice. Once he realizes that Abigail is a fraud, Hale devotes himself to attempting to persuade the other prisoners to confess so that they may avoid execution — using lies to foil lies. What he does not realize is that the lies he is urging would only reinforce the slanders the court has already committed. There would be no truth left.

The action of the play severely tests Hale's faith and understanding. He must acknowledge that children have manipulated his own irrefutable beliefs, while also realizing that he has sent innocent people to their death. This knowledge is a heavy burden, but it changes Hale for the better. Although he questions his own faith and doctrine, he does not abandon religion altogether. He catches a glimpse of true faith through those he has condemned, particularly Rebecca Nurse and Elizabeth Proctor.