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At the end of Act III, Reverend Hale leaves Salem. In a dramatic moment he "quits the court" when he realizes that it is all a lie. Because of this, Danforth and Parris are surprised that he is back in Salem and talking with the prisoners in jail. Danforth is upset to hear that Hale has returned. He knows that the witch uprising in Beverly has been squashed, so he has concerns about Hale's motives. However, the men agree that Hale may be able to consul Elizabeth into convincing her husband, John, to sign the confession. Knowing the importance of the Proctor name, they believe his confession carries great weight.
When he goes to her, Hale explains to Elizabeth that since he has been trying to convince those who are accused as witches to confess. He no longer does this because he believes they are guilty, but because he feels guilty. He knows if they confess, they will live.
Goody Proctor… I have gone this three month like our Lord into the wilderness. I have sought a Christian way, for damnation’s doubled on a minister who counsels men to lie.
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