Reverend Hale: A Tragic Hero

Categories: Tragic Hero

The Crucible had multiple tragic heroes throughout the story, although, when others think of a tragic hero, they often think of John Proctor, not Reverend Hale. Reverend Hale’s most tragic flaws are his pride, arrogance, and stubbornness, ultimately leading to the downfall of the town of Salem. Hale had ignored all the signs that witchcraft was only a hoax and was a joke the town girls had played. Hale was the only member of the court who attempted to redeem themselves, accentuating his role of being a tragic hero.

Hale’s pride and trust in the law blinded him from all the wrong he was doing through the unjust accusations they had made, preventing him till later from trying to stop the hangings and save others, but couldn’t realize that the witchcraft was all a game to the girls. If Reverend Hale had believed less in the law and was not as prideful in his beliefs, he could have possibly ended the witch trials sooner.

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When Hale had first arrived in Salem, his beliefs were extremely confident in himself, as well as the court and laws within the small town. Additionally, Hale went as far as telling the town people that if there happened to be any witchcraft residing within the town, he would be the one to put a stop to all of it. The townspeople of Salem had always viewed Reverend Hale as someone of repute, as there were often comments about how “… [he] was weighted with authority” (Miller, 36).

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Since he was so confident in himself and his abilities, the townspeople were under the impression that Hale would be the one to save Salem and put an end to all witchcraft. Hale did not realize, however, that he was mistaken in trusting himself and the law, which caused the witch trials to persist. He came along with two other judges to Salem, Hawthorne and Danforth, which further prevented Hale from seeing what was going on as the two judges he came with had the goal of arresting as many townspeople as possible to reach their ultimate goal of banishing witchcraft.

Towards the middle to end of the trials, Danforth decreed that despite ninety-one people signing a testament declaring Rebecca and Martha Corey to be good people, not performing witchcraft, that they were still to all be brought to court for questioning. Hale soon began to feel distressed and pressured to speak against Judge Danforth. While “… trying to contain himself” (Miller, 54) he asked of Danforth to, “… cease from proceeding the trial.” (Miller, 54) and to leave innocent people alone. Although Reverend Hale does begin to realize his belief in the laws should not be as confident, he realizes too late, causing the witch trials to persist for too long. Hale’s pride helped Hawthorne and Danforth continue questioning, imprisoning, and hanging the people of Salem, including the people that Hale himself arrested.

Reverend Hale’s stubbornness had also blinded him from seeing that his actions and beliefs were dooming the town until it was too late. After arresting several people on the belief that they were involved in witchcraft, he began to feel guilt over what he had done and saw how unrealistic the accusations he made were. Such as later on in court, Elizabeth Proctor was accused of casting her spirit upon Abigail Williams, to force her to inflict pain on herself with a needle. After countless attempts by John Proctor and Marry Warren to prove the Goody Proctor is innocent, Hale begins to see the flaws within the court and sympathizes with the people who have been accused of witchcraft. Although Hale saw that Elizabeth Proctor could not be affiliated with witchcraft and felt sympathetic towards her, he still proceeded to arrest her. Even though Reverend Hale had begun to see the flaws in himself, he still had complete trust in the laws and the court, trusting that judges Hawthorne and Danforth would not make the ultimate decision of arresting someone, even if they were innocent. When Hale began to recognize his faults, he did not speak of it until Goody Proctor had been arrested, telling Francis and Giles, “I shall pray God open up our eyes” (Miller, 79).

Later on, Hale began to see the fault within the court and began praying that the trials would slow down or that the judges would not be as harsh on families as they had been before. When the accusations had fallen upon John Proctor and Giles Corey, had Hale began to realize that he cannot trust the court or the judges. Hale believed that the two men should be given a fair trial with lawyers to help present the evidence, but the Judges would not allow it. Hale had recognized the wrong and corrupt ways the judges were involved in and finally was against the court that he had once entrusted all his faith. When Proctor had screamed, “liar” and “whore” (Miller, 84) at Abigail for what she was doing to the town, Hale had sympathized completely with Proctor, which he had not been doing before. The more emotional John Proctor had become, the more Hale realized how wrong everything was in the court. As Proctor told Danforth, “I have known her” (Miller, 84) showing the true motives behind Abigail’s actions, Hale had decided to speak with Proctor after the trial. Hale had told Proctor that he was shocked that Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey was arrested, a massive turning point for Hale in The Crucible. Hale had shown sympathy to the Nurse’s and told Francis Nurse, “If Rebecca Nurse be tainted, then nothings left to stop the whole green world from burning. Let you rest upon the justice of the court; the court will send her home, I know it.” (Miller, 81)

If Hale had realized that the court was corrupt, before he finally realized it with John Proctor, then others could have been saved from the wrath of Abigail Williams and the corrupt minds of Hawthorne and Danforth. However, by the time Hale had his epiphany, it was far too late to stop the trials and save the people of Salem from Abigail’s reign of terror. Reverend Hale had realized that Abigail was a liar and accusing people for fun, the witch trials would have been stopped earlier, and Hawthorne and Danforth would not come to trust Abigail and doing as she says completely. Nothing Hale could say would stop Abigail or stop the seventy-two death warrants. Ultimately, Hale had decided to”… denounce the proceedings, [Hale] quit this court!” (Miller, 85) moreover, go about his life redeeming himself as a good man, and not the one who had let Salem fall control of a little girl.

Hale did not begin to redeem himself until the end of Act four, the end of the book, which is after he resigned from the court and fled from Salem. Hale did return into town to inform the others that their “… blood is on my head.” (Miller, 127) Hale’s guilt had brought him back to the town of Salem to apologize to the people and the families for the amount of stress he had put on them and for ruining some of their lives. Reverend Hale had tried to redeem himself by coming to the people who had their date set for when to hang, by asking the people to confess that they were involved with witchcraft. Hale knew that if the people who were guilty were to confess to witchcraft, they would be allowed to live but have to go through an extreme cleansing program. Hale had come back with a positive mindset on how to help the people, claiming “I came into this village like a bridegroom to his beloved, bearing gifts of high religion; the very crowns of holy law I brought, and what I touched with my bright confidence, it died; and where I turned the eye of my great faith, blood flowed up” (Miller, 132) Hale had returned to right his wrongs and try to save someone from being hung due to a false accusation. He wanted them to “… cleave to no faith when faith brings blood. It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice” (Miller, 133). Hale believed that if the people who were confessing would lie, it would be less of a sin then him letting innocent people die due to false reasoning.

Reverend Hale had gone through multiple trials of proving himself as a tragic hero. Hale’s pride, arrogance, and stubbornness had caused him to be blinded from the truth of the witch trials. If Hale had not entrusted his own beliefs and the court so much, he may have discovered that there was not any witchcraft in Salem, stopping the trials and saving several people from being arrested and hanged. Reverend Hale was a tragic hero, as he returned to fix what he had done wrong, and tried to redeem himself.

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Reverend Hale: A Tragic Hero. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved from

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