Hale entered Arthur Miller's 1953 play production, The Crucible, as a minister, sent to determine the truth of recent accusations of witchcraft. When Hale began his job, he believed to know the answers, hoping to use his knowledge to make all well in Salem. He knew himself to be more educated than anybody else in Salem at discerning evil from the world. However, as the play developed he began to doubt whether or not his past beliefs were true. The court, having gained momentum from the past conclusions, became a freight train with too much force behind it to be stopped. Hale began to doubt the court and, through that, the church. By the end of the play, Hale believed it worthwhile for the accused to admit false guilt, and thereby lie and sacrifice honor, in order to save their lives. The acts and attitudes of Hale changed throughout the play as he discovered that people were acting out of spite towards one another, not earnestly.
When Hale arrived in Salem he believed that he alone could determine which people of Salem were witches and bring those people gone astray to justice. He viewed himself as the leading knowledge of witchcraft and the supernatural, his views as unquestionable as the musical style of the concertmaster. This young erudite came to Salem to cure those afflicted by evil as he had done in the past, neither doubting his teachings nor questioning whether people could be under the influence of the devil. The lifestyle of a reverend required the former; the past occurrences in his parish confirmed the latter. Most importantly, Hale thought what he was doing was for the better good, and as such acted by what he felt were in the best interests of the community. Hale stood for the common good and did what he felt was right for both God and humanity.
The second Act showed just how easily it was for Hale to lose grip of the situation. In a visit to the Proctor household, Hale had a small chat with Elizabeth and John Proctor regarding names being mentioned as possible conspirators. In their dialogue they said that Rebecca Nurse has been mentioned in court, although Hale saw her to be an upright and holy person. The plot thickened as Cheever tore into the house, demanding Elizabeth to come with him to stand trial. It was then that Hale discovers that things had gotten out of hand and even lawful, wholesome people were being accused of witchcraft. Despite this, Hale stood by the court, saying that it would declare the innocent as such. Hale held his faith in the courts, despite radical accusations, believing that justice would be served.
It was not until Act III that Hale acknowledged faults in the legal system. Until then, Hale had had no doubts of the proceedings of the court; he felt that all falsehoods would be exposed and justice upheld. He finally began to see that every defense was proclaimed an attack on the beliefs of the church, and through that the court. The defendant was then guilty not of the crime, but of being accused. Hale’s outlook of the world switched from him being in the center, pointing out those sided against God, to him being a simple aide, used by the court to prosecute victims. Upon discovering the new truth, he denounced the court, proclaiming it unjust. Hale continued to do what he believed was moral, now doing it against the ruling theocracy.
Hale’s outlook on the situations in Salem changed drastically during the fourth act. No longer did Hale fight for the name of God; Hale now believed that it was better to live with no honor, than to die for what is right. He urged Proctor to confess to lies, thereby committing sin. In doing so he managed to lose the esteem of every reader, showing him to no longer be fighting for righteousness, but to save those accused. The true dissatisfaction didn’t come from him trying to save the lives of Proctor and the others accused, but from him doing so at any cost. He decided that the ends would justify the means, something that makes sense to an atheist but is against every value held by Christianity. Hale was no longer worthy of being called a follower of God’s Will because Hale acted towards improving the short-term, rather than doing what was honorable.
The play shows how different people will change their lifestyles to do what will give the best immediate results, rather than doing what is the best for the ultimate good. Hale began the play believing himself to be the alpha and the omega of mining the truth out of a person’s conscience. He then set into motion a speeding train that could not be stopped, and in abandoning the government, he also disregarded the church affiliated with it. No longer a member of the church, he threw caution to the wind and advised Proctor to lie in order to save his life, even if it meant giving up honor and sinning. Hale always acted in accordance with what he felt right at the time, and in doing so he changed his very outlook on life and gave up the very core of his humanity.