In act 3 of The Crucible, why does Reverend Hale change his story about witchcraft?

In act 3 of The Crucible, Reverend Hale changes his position on the witch trials after recognizing the corrupt nature of Salem's officials and witnessing Proctor sacrifice his reputation to save his wife. Hale acknowledges that Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris are primarily concerned with maintaining their authority and that Abigail is manipulating everyone. Following Elizabeth's testimony, Hale expresses his support for John Proctor and denounces the proceedings.

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Prior to act 3, Reverend Hale had been doing his own independent investigation to examine whether or not the accused civilians are capable of colluding with the devil. His independent investigation reveals his uncertainty surrounding the witch trials as well as his attempt to discover the truth behind their testimonies....

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Prior to act 3, Reverend Hale had been doing his own independent investigation to examine whether or not the accused civilians are capable of colluding with the devil. His independent investigation reveals his uncertainty surrounding the witch trials as well as his attempt to discover the truth behind their testimonies. Hale is a contentious minister who genuinely desires to do what is right and protect the town from evil.

In act 3, Reverend Hale notices that Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris become defensive when Proctor presents his deposition. Their reactions to Proctor's deposition worry Reverend Hale, who realizes they are concerned with the court's stability and blind to the possibility that the girls are frauds. Hale becomes upset when the judges arrest Giles Corey for contempt of court and begins to accept that the proceedings may be corrupt.

Once Proctor admits to having an affair with Abigail, Reverend Hale realizes he is telling the truth. In Salem's Puritan society, a person's reputation is all they have, and Hale knows Proctor would never tarnish his reputable name for nothing. Although Abigail denies the accusation, Hale is certain she is lying.

Elizabeth is then brought before the court and attempts to protect her husband's name by lying to Danforth about John's affair with Abigail. Hale knows that any rational Puritan wife would lie to protect their husband's reputation and comes to Proctor's defense. He also admits that Abigail has always struck him as false and quits the proceedings at the end of the act.

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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.

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Reverend Hale changes his position on the witch trials because he is determined to save John Proctor from execution.  He becomes convinced that Abigail Williams is a liar in Act III, after she is asked to respond to the confession of John Proctor to lechery.

Proctor admits to a crime, lechery in the court, a serious crime, this gets Reverend Hale's attention, he considers what would cause a man to confess to such a crime in front of the high court.  It must be true, that is the only answer.

Abigail is defiant in her non-response to Danforth, refusing to reply to the question.  Hale proclaims that he believes Proctor.

"I believe him! Pointing at Abigail: This girl has always struck me as false" 

Hale becomes convinced that the court does not care about the truth, a man has just surrendered himself to the crime of lechery and they do not believe him, they would rather charge him with witchcraft. 

Reverend Hale can no longer be a part of this charade that ignores the truth and elevates a liar, Abigail Williams. 

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Hale has just witnessed the confession of Mary Warren that the girls are faking their symptoms of witchcraft and the aftermath of that confession. Abigail and the other girls turn against Mary and,to maintain Mary's credibility, John Proctor admits to his adultery with Abigail. Hale believes Proctor, but Danforth brings in Elizabeth Proctor to confirm the story. Danforth won't allow Elizabeth to look at John when he asks her about the alleged affair between Abigial and her husband. Since Elizabeth wants to protect her husband, she denies there was an affair, thus casting doubt on both John's allegations and Mary Warren's testimony. Danforth has Proctor lead to jail. This infuriates Rev. Hale, who has become fed up with the entire process. He sees Danforth as a man protecting the court and his own reputation rather than seeking the truth about possible witches in Salem. So, Hale leaves the court after he criticizes the methods the court has used in coming to its conclusions.
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