In Act III, Reverend Hale makes an important decision, he decides to quit the court in Salem, because he becomes convinced that the testimony of Abigail Williams has been false.
After John Proctor confesses, in court, to lechery with Abigail Williams, and she will not respond to the charge, Reverend Hale feels certain that she is a liar. Additionally, Elizabeth Proctor is brought into the court, and not allowed to look at her husband, John, and is asked to verify the confession of adultery. She lies to protect her husband, saying that there was no affair between John and Abigail.
Reverend Hale immediately jumps to Elizabeth's defense:
"Hale: 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 thorough this testimony!" (Miller)
At the end of Act III, as Giles Corey and John Proctor are taken away to jail, Reverend Hale has had enough.
"Hale: I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!" (Miller)
By the end of Act III of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the trial has become a total farce, with testimonies given under duress, refuted and then changed again until the prospect of a just resolution, already impossible, is rendered even more remote. Mary Warren’s attacks on John Proctor are putting the final nails in his coffin following Abigail’s machinations, prompting Parris to exclaim of Mary, “Cast the Devil out! Look him in the face! Trample him! We’ll save you, Mary, only stand fast against him and . . .”
As the proceedings continue to deteriorate into a chaotic atmosphere of panic and innuendo, Deputy Governor Danforth feeds the frenzy, while Reverend Hale, a rare voice of reason at this point, attempts to intervene:
Danforth, to Proctor: What are you? Proctor is beyond speech in his anger. You are combined with anti-Christ, are you not? I have seen your power; you will not deny it! What say you, Mister?
Hale: Excellency -
Danforth: I will have nothing from you, Mr. Hale! To Proctor: Will you confess yourself befouled with Hell, or do you keep that black allegiance yet? What say you?
Proctor, his mind wild, breathless: I say - I say - God is dead'
The shouting and accusations continue, with the fate of John Proctor, once the town’s most respected citizen, hanging in the balance – a balance tilting increasingly against him. It is then that Hale angrily shouts, “I denounce these proceedings, I quit this court!”
Reverend Hale’s decision is to divorce himself from the proceedings because he recognizes that the lies and manipulations that have been occurring preclude any kind of just resolution pertaining to charges of sorcery.