Once there have been enough convictions, the reputations of the judges also become factors.
They are extremely biased towards believing they have made the correct sentencing decisions in court thus far, so they are reluctant to accept new evidence that may prove them wrong.
Danforth, Hathorne, and Parris become even more rigid in their views when they feel they are under attack.
No one will listen to Tituba until she agrees to confirm the version of events that the people in traditional positions of authority have already decided is true, a pattern which continues throughout the play.
At the end this act, John Proctor delivers a short monologue anticipating the imminent loss of the disguises of propriety worn by himself and other members of the Salem community.
The faces that people present to the public are designed to garner respect in the community, but the witch trials have thrown this system into disarray.The importance placed on reputation helps perpetuate hysteria because it leads to inaction, inflexibility, and, in many cases, active sabotage of the reputations of others for selfish purposes.The overall message is that when a person's actions are driven by desires to preserve favorable public opinion rather than do the morally right thing, there can be extremely dire consequences.He believes that “Postponement now speaks a floundering on my part; reprieve or pardon must cast doubt upon the guilt of them that died till now.While I speak God’s law, I will not crack its voice with whimpering” (pg. In the final events of Act 4, John Proctor has a tough choice to make between losing his dignity and losing his life.As Reverend Hale says to Danforth, “Excellency, there are orphans wandering from house to house; abandoned cattle bellow on the highroads, the stink of rotting crops hangs everywhere, and no man knows when the harlots’ cry will end his life - and you wonder yet if rebellion’s spoke? These people are the only ones who refuse to throw out false accusations or lie about involvement in witchcraft, so they find themselves condemned (this is the fate of Rebecca Nurse).This means that much of the population that remains is comprised of the power-hungry, the selfish, and the cowardly.And he goes to save her, and, stuck two inches in the flesh of her belly, he draw a needle out." (Cheever pg. The idea that a witch's familiar spirit is capable of stabbing people is too scary for the superstitious and now hysterical people of Salem to give Elizabeth the benefit of the doubt.No one even considers Mary's statement about sticking the needle in herself.Though Danforth is the most powerful official figure in court, Abigail manipulates him easily with her performance as a victim of witchcraft.He's already accepted her testimony as evidence, so he is happy for any excuse to believe her over John and Mary.