What is Reverend Hale’s internal conflict?

Answered by Jeremy Urbaniak

Reverend Hale’s internal conflict in “The Crucible” arises from the clash between his strong opposition to evil and his growing doubts about the validity of the witchcraft accusations in Salem. As a deeply religious man and an expert in witchcraft, Hale initially arrives in Salem with full conviction that he will uncover and eradicate the presence of the Devil. However, as he investigates further, he begins to question the credibility of the accusations and the motives behind them.

One aspect of Hale’s internal conflict stems from the lack of substantial evidence of witchcraft. Despite his expertise in the field, he finds little concrete proof to support the accusations. This becomes apparent when he first questions Tituba, a slave from Barbados, who is accused of practicing witchcraft. Hale’s initial confidence in uncovering the Devil’s work is challenged as Tituba’s confession is coerced through intimidation and fear. He realizes that this method of obtaining confessions may lead to false accusations and doubts the validity of the evidence presented.

Furthermore, Hale observes the reactions of the characters to the accusations and starts to question their honesty and intentions. As he witnesses the hysteria and mass hysteria that grips Salem, he becomes increasingly skeptical of the truthfulness of the accusations. He sees how easily people are swayed by rumors and fear, leading them to falsely accuse others. This realization further deepens his internal conflict, as he grapples with the idea that innocent lives may be wrongly condemned due to the collective hysteria and manipulation of the situation.

In addition, Hale’s internal conflict is also influenced by his own sense of responsibility and guilt. As the expert on witchcraft, he feels a duty to eradicate evil and protect the community from the Devil’s influence. However, as he witnesses the unfolding events and the devastating consequences of the witch trials, he questions whether he has played a part in perpetuating the hysteria. He begins to doubt his own judgment and wonders if he has been too quick to believe in the existence of witches, contributing to the chaos and tragedy that ensues.

Throughout the play, Reverend Hale’s internal conflict intensifies as he grapples with his initial certainty about the presence of witchcraft and the growing doubts surrounding the accusations. His strong opposition to evil clashes with the lack of evidence, the manipulation of the situation, and the devastating impact on innocent lives. This internal conflict ultimately leads him to reassess his beliefs and take a stand against the court’s proceedings, attempting to save those who have been falsely accused.