The Crucible

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A minister in the nearby Massachusetts town of Beverly, and an expert in identifying witchcraft. An intelligent man, Hale sees himself as a scientist and philosopher, a kind of physician of the soul. At the beginning of the play he's something of an innocent, taking for granted that the world is black and white and that he, with his expertise, can tell the difference between the two. By the end of the play his outlook has changed considerably. Unlike the other priests, his insistence on uncovering facts makes it impossible for him to overlook the evidence indicating that those condemned of witchcraft in Salem were innocent.

Reverend Hale Quotes in The Crucible

The The Crucible quotes below are all either spoken by Reverend Hale or refer to Reverend Hale. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of The Crucible published in 2003.
Act 2 Quotes
I have seen too many frightful proofs in court—the Devil is alive in Salem, and we dare not quail to follow wherever the accusing finger points!
Related Characters: Reverend Hale (speaker)
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

Francis Nurse arrives at the Proctor home, revealing that his wife, Rebecca Nurse, has been accused of witchcraft and charged with the murder of the Putnams' babies. Reverend Hale first reassures Francis that Rebecca will be found innocent but insists, reluctantly, that the court must take the accusations of witchcraft seriously.

Reverend Hale, a good but weak man, feels himself powerless to challenge the power of the court. Since the Puritan church controls the courts of law in Salem, Hale has no choice but to recognize the court's decisions as sanctified. Salem's hysteria overpowers even the most unblemished reputations, allowing for the accusations and arrests of previously revered Salem citizens, like Rebecca Nurse.

Hale's speech also reveals the fear that bolsters the Salem Witch Trials. His unwillingness to challenge Abigail's claims stems from actual terror that the Devil is present in Salem, a terror that the church leaders use to manipulate their followers into blind submission ("we dare not quail to follow"). 

Finally, these lines demonstrate how powerful Abigail has become and how skillfully she has understood, and taken advantage of, the people's weaknesses and fears. If the court is willing to believe any "accusing finger," Abigail finds herself free to point towards Rebecca Nurse or Elizabeth Proctor or anyone whom she means to harm.


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Act 4 Quotes
It is mistaken law that leads you to sacrifice. Life, woman, life is God's most precious gift; no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it . . ..it may well be God damns a liar less than he that throws his life away for pride.
Related Characters: Reverend Hale (speaker), Elizabeth Proctor
Page Number: 122
Explanation and Analysis:

John Proctor has been sentenced to hang unless he confesses to his alliance with the Devil. Reverend Hale, holding himself accountable for John's sentence, pleads with Elizabeth to urge John to confess and save his life.

Reverend Hale's words to Elizabeth reveal a broken minister who has come to doubt everything that he once understood about God's grace and righteousness. He tells Elizabeth that it is better for John to live than to uphold his spiritual integrity and go to the scaffold professing his true innocence. Desperate for John to live, Reverend Hale argues that it may even be a greater sin to die for "pride" than to lie in order to live.

Reverend Hale finally sees how blind adherence to the church has led the Puritans away from God: "Cleave to no faith when faith brings blood," he tells Elizabeth. Reverend Hale asks Elizabeth to do the one thing that she (and, ultimately, John) cannot do: make two wrongs into a right.

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Reverend Hale Character Timeline in The Crucible

The timeline below shows where the character Reverend Hale appears in The Crucible. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
...says it can't possibly be spiritual causes, though just to make sure he's asked Reverend Hale from the nearby town of Beverly to come investigate. As Susanna leaves, both Abigail and... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
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Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
...being attacked by the devil. Putnam asks if it's true that Parris sent for Reverend Hale from Beverly. Parris says yes, but just as a precaution. Putnam is certain there's been... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
A disagreement arises about whether Parris should have called Reverend Hale to come search Salem for spirits without first holding a meeting. The dispute erupts into... (full context)
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Reverend Hale enters carrying a stack of religious books about witchcraft. He seems eager to flex his... (full context)
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Putnam, Mrs. Putnam, and Parris tell Hale of the recent events. Hale and Rebecca are shocked Mrs. Putnam would send her child... (full context)
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As Hale takes out a book about witchcraft and prepares to examine Betty further, Rebecca departs, clearly... (full context)
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Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Betty doesn't respond to Hale's question, so he turns to Abigail. She repeats that they were only dancing. When Parris... (full context)
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The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
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Troubled, Hale asks Abigail if she conjured the devil. Abigail says Tituba did. As Mrs. Putnam goes... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Hale asks Tituba when she made a "compact with the devil." Tituba says she never has.... (full context)
Puritanism and Individuality Theme Icon
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
...seen with the devil. Betty wakes and begins to chant names too. Parris, Putnam, and Hale call for the town marshal as the girls scream out the names of witch after... (full context)
Act 2
Hysteria Theme Icon
The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Reputation and Integrity Theme Icon
Suddenly Hale appears at the door, startling both Elizabeth and Proctor. Hale says that without the court's... (full context)
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The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
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Hale asks some questions about the "Christian character" of the house. He asks why the Proctors... (full context)
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Just as Hale is about to leave, Elizabeth persuades Proctor to speak up about Abigail. The news shakes... (full context)
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Though troubled, Hale defends the court and says it will certainly send Rebecca home. Yet Hale has no... (full context)
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Hale assures Proctor that the court will recognize Elizabeth's innocence, and promises that he will testify... (full context)
Act 3
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...land. Corey is dragged from the courtroom (and onto the stage), followed by Francis Nurse, Hale, Parris, Hathorne, and Danforth. Hathorne and Danforth are furious that Corey would disrupt and try... (full context)
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...frauds. Proctor and Mary Warren come forward. Parris tells Danforth that Proctor causes "mischief," while Hale begs Danforth to hear the evidence. (full context)
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...earlier ripped up the court's warrant, and Parris adds that Proctor seldom comes to church. Hale argues that such evidence hardly justifies considering Proctor a threat to the court. (full context)
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Parris declares this an attack on the court. Hale questions why all attempts at defense are called attacks on the court. (full context)
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The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
...the name, for fear the man will be treated like the signers of the petition. Hale observes that there's a great fear of the court in Salem. But Danforth says this... (full context)
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Proctor brings Mary forward. Hale says this argument is so important Danforth should let a lawyer present it to him.... (full context)
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The Danger of Ideology Theme Icon
Hale says he believes Proctor, and that Elizabeth was just trying to protect his reputation, but... (full context)
Act 4
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...They wonder where Parris is and are troubled to learn from Herrick that he's with Hale, visiting those condemned to hang that morning, including Proctor and Rebecca Nurse. (full context)
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Parris enters. To Danforth and Hathorne's questions about Hale, he answers that Hale has returned to try to convince those convicted of witchcraft to... (full context)
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Hale enters, demanding pardons for the convicted. Danforth says 12 others have already been hanged for... (full context)
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...now well along in her pregnancy. As Marshal Herrick goes to get Elizabeth, Danforth asks Hale why he returned to Salem. Hale replies bitterly that he came to convince Christians to... (full context)
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Elizabeth enters. Hale tells her he will consider himself Proctor's murderer if Proctor is hanged. Hale begs Elizabeth... (full context)
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...hasn't. Danforth then asks if he's seen anyone with the devil. Proctor again says no. Hale and Parris convince Danforth to accept Proctor's confession anyway. Under pressure from Danforth, Proctor signs... (full context)
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...the confession to pieces. Danforth orders Herrick to take Proctor to the gallows. Parris and Hale beg Elizabeth to speak to Proctor. But she says Proctor has his goodness back now,... (full context)