In The Crucible Act IV, what evidence does Hale give as to the effect of witchcraft accusations on the town?

Expert Answers
mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Act Four, a lot of the frenzy surrounding the initial accusations and hangings of the witch trials has died out, and people are getting a little fed up with so many people being in the jails.  They are starting to doubt the authority of the courts, and wonder how so many people could actually be witches.  In a nearby town, Andover, the people there actually overthrew the court and drove the judges out of town, releasing the people that were in prison.  The townspeople are restless; Abby senses this and bails before they turn on her, and Parris fears for his safety as he finds a knife in his door.  So the mood is much more different than the frenzied hysteria of witches that existed in the previous acts.  As proof of the townspeople's discontent, Hale comments on the impact that so many people in jail has had on the town:

"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 harlots' cry will end his life."

With so many people in the jails, kids are being left without parents, farms are not getting harvested, and livestock is being abandoned, left to fend for themselves.  It is a grim scenario; the town is suffering greatly, and they all fear that Abby will accuse them next (this is the harlot Hale refers to).  This denegration of the town, the children, the farms and livestock all put pressure on the people, and are slowly turning them against the courts.  I hope that those thoughts helped; good luck!