The conflict between the judge and the ringleader of the "afflicted" girls stems from a struggle for power, and it climaxes in Act 3 of the play. By this act when Proctor has brought Mary before the court to confess that she and the other girls are faking, Danforth realizes that his credibility and authority in Salem are untenable. Long-respected townspeople such as Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey have been imprisoned, and Rev. Hale--an expert in investigating witchcraft--has started to side with those against the trials.
Abigail, too, is in a precarious position. If the court believes that she has accused innocent people of witchcraft all while knowing what the fatal sentence is for them, her life and all the power she has recently obtained. She must get Danforth to believe her since he is obviously the leader of the judges. But, she resents Danforth because he is in authority over her and "dares" to question her veracity, and he resents her because his reputation, authority, and legacy are based on an arrogant 17-year-old girl's actions and words.
The ultimate "showdown" between the two occurs when Proctor confesses to his affair with Abigail, and Danforth asks Abigail if she denies it. She steps toward the judge and demands,
" 'What look do you give me? Danforth cannot speak. I'll not have such looks!' "
After this, Elizabeth lies, and Abigail's falsity is covered up once again, but realizing that she cannot challenge Danforth again, she flees from Salem soon after this scene, never to be heard from again.