Throughout the play, Miller presents the character of Hale as a paradox – one whose attitudes towards the Salem witch trials evolve and change as the story progresses. A determined, assured “witch expert” at first, Hale recognizes and accepts his faults in condemning the innocent, and develops a sense of guilt towards the closing scenes of the play.
In Act 1, Miller presents Hale as an assured character who has a great deal of confidence in his abilities. This can be seen from the moment he enters the stage, saying “They must be; the are weighted with authority” in reference to Parris’ remark about the weight of his books. Miller’s use of the word “authority” reflects Hale’s own idea of himself, and this is effective in immediately giving the audience an idea of Hale as a character. However, it could also be argued that in this Act, Miller aims to present Hale as the embodiment of the iron-fisted, intolerant, justice-seeking attitude of theocracy.
Hale is continued to be presented as a confident and authoritative figure by Miller in Act 2. For example, this is shown when he tells Proctor that “theology is a fortress” after Proctor is unable to recite all of his commandments. Miller’s use of the word “fortress”, once again, serves to accentuate the sense authority and power Hale perceives in himself, and this is effective in evoking a sense of anger and dislike from the audience towards him. Miller’s portrayal of Hale could also be seen as a way of challenging and critiquing the intolerant and remorseless attitude of the witch trials, and to an extent, theocracy as a whole.
Hale’s change of heart and recognition the erroneous nature of the witch trials is climaxed by Miller in Act 3, and this is shown when he says “I denounce these proceedings, and quit the court!” in the final scene of the act. Miller use of the word “denounce” is effective in further presenting the witch trials as evil and destructive, whilst “quit the court” confirms Hale’s firm change...