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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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And the alternative is appalling. To believe Proctor is to "charge
a cold and cruel murder on Abigail." This is why, when Mary
Warren tells him the real story of the poppet, he asks her, "May
it be, perhaps, that someone conjures you even now to say this?"
It's a reasonable question; he's seen it happen in court. Mary
answers, "Why, no, sir, I am entirely myself, I think," and adds
that Abby saw her make the poppet and stick the needle in. This
is troubling information, but Hale is too uncertain of himself
among these strangers; he dare not leap to the conclusion that is
so obvious to us.

And so Hale, the intellectual with the soft heart, misses his
chance to save the lives of innocent people. But maybe some of
them are not so innocent. Before he leaves, Hale tells an
enraged John Proctor:



...I cannot think God be provoked so grandly by such a petty
cause.... Man, we must look to cause proportionate. Were there
murder done, perhaps, and never brought to light?
Abomination? Some secret blasphemy that stinks to Heaven?
Think on cause, man, and let you help me to discover it. For
there's your way, believe it, there is your only way, when such
confusion strikes upon the world... think on your village and
what may have drawn from heaven such thundering wrath upon
you all.

It's the only thing he can think of to explain what's going on:
someone is hiding a sin so disgusting it has called down God's
punishment on the whole community. These words strike
straight into John Proctor's heart.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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