In act 3, John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Francis Nurse arrive at Salem's meeting house with Mary Warren to challenge the corrupt court and present evidence that Abigail Williams and the girls are lying. At this point in the play, Reverend Hale is having second thoughts about the witch trials and suspects that Proctor and his friends are telling the truth. Reverend Hale has signed the arrest warrants of several notable citizens and worries they may be innocent. When Francis Nurse presents a petition to the court officials, Deputy Governor Danforth demands that each person who signed the petition be summoned for questioning. Reverend Parris announces it as a clear attack upon the court, and Hale responds by saying,
Is every defense an attack upon the court? Can no one—?
As the proceedings continue, Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris exercise their authority by arresting Giles Corey and intimidating Mary Warren. Reverend Hale recognizes that the judges are primarily concerned with protecting their authority and are not interested in discovering the truth. When John Proctor admits to lechery and Elizabeth lies in an attempt to save her husband's reputation, Reverend Hale realizes John is being honest and completely changes his position. Hale understands that John would never sacrifice his reputation. Ironically, Elizabeth dooms her husband by attempting to protect his name, and Danforth has Proctor arrested. Following Elizabeth's testimony, Reverend Hale says:
Excellency, it is a natural lie to tell; I beg you, stop now before another is condemned! I may shut my conscience to it no more—private vengeance is working through this testimony! From the beginning this man has struck me true. By my oath to Heaven, I believe him now, and I pray you call back his wife before we—
Reverend Hale then comments that Abigail has always struck him as false and denounces the proceedings. Overall, Reverend Hale changes his position on the witch trials when he recognizes the corrupt nature of the court officials and discovers that John Proctor is telling the truth. Reverend Hale regrets being involved in the witch trials, denounces the proceedings, and repents for his sins.