An Analysis of the Conflicts of Reverend Hale, Mary Warren, and John Proctor

Category: Culture, John Proctor
Last Updated: 19 Apr 2023
Pages: 4 Views: 71

Arthur Miller's classic literary piece The Crucible is the tragic story of the Salem Witch Trials in early America. These tests of faith determined whether the outcasts of the town should live or die. Such a decision could be handled with high evidence, photos, memories and eyewitnesses. These trials, however, were based on heresy and the general opinion of that person by the villagers. Most peoples' stances on the issue did not change throughout the days where thought-to-be witches were hanged from the gallows to a horde of screaming villagers.

However, those who did change in the play conflicted with their own feelings, their own beliefs, and even their own faiths. For this reason, Reverend Hale, Mary Warren, and John Proctor all had conflicts within themselves and with others; conflicts in which the solution was never easy and the resolution pushed our protagonist deeper into the hole.

First off, Reverend Hale was dynamically changed in the book due to his internal conflict. Originally sent to Salem to save the children from an illness, deemed by Dr. Griggs, of "unnatural causes" (Miller 9), John Hale was the kind preacher from Beverly, Massachusesetts. He came into the town with high religion, thinking of all the people he would save by abolishing these evil spirits. However, Hale has a revelation regarding what he was teaching these people and what happened to those that fell out of place. He realized that all those people he told were unusual were going to hang when they do not agree to Hale's findings.

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This is what began Rev. Hale's internal conflict, Hale versus himself. Hale considers if the decisions he is making are morally right. Hale tells himself that he is doing job the Puritan way, and is helping the people of the town, "This is a strange time, mister. No man may longer doubt the powers of the dark are gathered in monstrous attack on this village" (64). Hale later sees something that no Bible nor book would ever tell him about, and that is how to decide guilt. When people began providing legitimate reasons for their innocence, ending with John Proctor, Hale listens to their pleas and realizes that he is not making the right decisions.

At the end, just before Proctor is taken away, Hale proclaims “It is a lie! They are [all] innocent!" (132) Hale resolves his conflict by going with his own independent opinion and not throwing himself to the Bible like he normally would. Danforth would have none of it, and Proctor was hanged, but at least Hale knows what is right.

Next, we have Mary Warren, who is the young housekeeper of the Proctor household and the second most conflicted person in the play. Like any teenager could tell you, they like their friends. They may do just about anything to keep them. So, the struggle between "obey your master” and “obey your friends" is extremely prominent, a classic “person vs. person and person vs. self". Mary throws her support to her friends and tells John, her master, "I cannot, they'll turn on me-" (80). John convinces her otherwise, but she turns completely on John in the final part of the third act: "I go your way no more" (119). With this, John is being pushed further into the hole when his only request is to escape the hole. Mary Warren's resolution did not help Proctor's case in the slightest, but the final conflict will show you how John Proctor got in the hole in the first place.

If Mary Warren was the second most conflicted person, John Proctor is definitely the first. Between two lives he has been leading, John discovers that his conflict is between three people, Abigail Williams, Elizabeth Proctor, and himself. On all accounts, John has cheated his loved one for a harlot who still thinks John fancies her. She does not seem to understand that John wants nothing to do with her anymore. In fact, he tells her "Abby, you'll put it out of mind. I'm not comin' for you anymore" (22).

Enraged, Abigail accuses John's wife Elizabeth of witchcraft to remove her from this love triangle, causing his first person versus person conflict. John was so weighted with guilt that he must face another person vs person conflict with Elizabeth, who had suspicions about the affair this entire time. John also is accused of witchcraft and denies putting his name on the church, simply "Because it is my name!" (143) His internal conflict, person vs. self, is resolved by putting his pride and dignity before his own life, and it is a lethal combination.

So, the decisions made by three most conflicted people in this play were tied to John Proctor somehow, and they all contained an uneasy solution. Mary Warren may have sided with the crowd, but Hale and Proctor stepped away from conformity to do what is righteous. And in the end, their resolutions fared better than that of young Mary's. Because moving away from the norm to listen to your own conscience is the right decision to make.

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An Analysis of the Conflicts of Reverend Hale, Mary Warren, and John Proctor. (2023, Apr 19). Retrieved from

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