In act two, Reverend Hale visits John Proctor's home to do some independent investigation of his own regarding the witch trials. Reverend Hale explains that he finds it hard to draw a clear opinion of the accused citizens in court, which is why he is traveling throughout the town and questioning the Christian character of prominent members of the community who were briefly mentioned in court. Reverend Hale proceeds to question John about his poor church attendance and asks why his third child has not been baptized. John answers both questions and blames his poor attendance on his wife's illness. John also admits that he will not allow Reverend Parris to lay his hands on his third child because he does not see the "light of God" in him.
Reverend Hale then tests John's Christian character and makes him prove that he is a godly man by instructing him to repeat the Ten Commandments. Reverend Hale believes that a devout Christian man will have no problem repeating the Commandments, and he views this as an accurate gauge of righteousness. John follows Reverend Hale's instructions but struggles to name each of the Commandments. John notably forgets the Seventh Commandment, which prohibits adultery. Elizabeth intervenes and helps John by quietly reminding him. Given John's previous affair with Abigail Williams, his inability to remember the Seventh Commandment is significant and underscores the source of his past transgressions.