Hale realizes that he and the court officials have made mistakes. Hale realizes that men like Proctor and Giles are innocent of witchcraft. Hale feels such a responsibility for the people who have already hanged. He does not desire to see Proctor hang as well. He desires for Proctor to be saved.
No doubt, Hale is under a heavy load of guilt. He has initiated a search for witches. He has instigated the search for witches. He is at fault. Now, innocent people have hung and will be hanged. Hale carries a heavy load of guilt:
Hale reasons that the accused must be pardoned since they have not confessed and describes how: "There are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlot's cry will end his life." However, Danforth refuses to give in as twelve people have already been hanged; he speaks of his determination to extract a confession from Proctor.
Hale desires to pardon the accused. Danforth will not hear of it. He claims that it will not be fair to those twelve who have already hanged.
Hale realizes how wrong he has been. He trusts Proctor. He realizes that innocent people are dying because of Abigail's revenge. The damage has been done and Hale will have to live with it. He is guilty of the lives that have been hung as well as the ones that are facing execution by hanging.