What is Reverend Hale doing that brings hope? Why does Danforth suggest that Hale has been preaching in Andover?
In act 4, Reverend Parris is feeling very nervous about the hangings that are scheduled to take place because of who is supposed to die: several upstanding, well-respected members of the community, unlike many of those of relatively ill-repute who have died before. He says,
Now Mr. Hale's returned, there is hope, I think— for if he bring even one of these to God, that confession surely damns the others in the public eye, and none may doubt more that they are all linked to Hell. This way, unconfessed and claiming innocence, doubts are multiplied, many honest people will weep for them, and our good purpose is lost in their tears.
He hopes that Mr. Hale will be able to get one of these people who are scheduled to hang to confess to witchcraft because this will give all of the convictions more credibility. Right now, the people in town doubt the guilt of those condemned because they are all claiming to be innocent, but if one confesses, then the reputations of all will be tainted by it. Suddenly, the credibility and authority of the court and judges will be restored. Hale is counseling the prisoners to confess a lie—that they have made a compact with the devil—in order to save their lives, and this act gives Parris and the others hope that one may yet confess before the hangings take place.
Mr. Parris brings up Andover, another nearby town, first because there has, apparently, been some rebellion against the court there. Danforth insists that the problem has been "remedied" and that the court will return soon to continue its work. The rumor in Salem is that, in Andover, the court has been totally overthrown, and so he fears that there will be a similar riot in Salem if the hangings go forward without a confession from one of the condemned. Later, Danforth asks if Mr. Hale has been preaching in Andover lately, likely because Hale has just suggested that Danforth is going to "raise [a] rebellion" if he will not postpone the hangings in Salem. Danforth seems to see Hale as one who is now working against the court (which Hale is—he is trying to work on the part of the innocent people the court has condemned).
Reverend Hale is trying to protect the accused. He realizes the flaws of the court, and he suspects that the girls are misleading the judges and the townspeople. In Act III, he denounces the proceedings and disassociated himself with the court. Reverend Hale believes that God will judge a person less for lying to save their lives, than for forfeiting a good life for "pride." Therefore, Reverend Hale has been counseling townspeople against the courts, and counseling the accused to confess. He is trying to right a very wrong situation. Danforth wonders if he has been in Andover because there are rumors that Andover has overthrown the court. Danforth suspects that Hale may have something to do with that.