This statement by Hale is directed towards Elizabeth Proctor who is John’s spouse. Hale is persistently trying to persuade Elizabeth to convince her husband that confessing to witchcraft is a better moral conclusion than telling the truth and being hanged. John does not want to sign his name to a lie in fear that God will damn him to hell, and if he chooses to save himself, innocent people will die. Hale becomes a favorable character in the play after he realizes that the trials are unjust and backed by no logic, only religious superstition. When Hale makes his remark, “Life is God’s most precious gift, no principle, however glorious, may justify the taking of it.”, he isn’t talking about murder, but rather John Proctor sparing his own life. Hale feels that John’s “confession” is more valuable than the unjust foundation of these trials.
The validity of this statement is debatable because in both decisions, death is still a punishment. Hale’s statement has an underlying sense of unintentional hypocrisy If John Proctor confesses, then he will save himself but others will perish under his lie. If John tells the truth to the judges then he himself will die under truth. Throughout the entire play thus far, religious superstition has overwritten the judicial system in Salem. Hale is also saying that John’s reputation is less important than his own life because obviously if John confesses, his name will quickly blacken in the town of Salem. Reverend Hale