Our liking for Hale is also increased in this scene, because although he is being selfish and defending Proctor to save his conscience, he is one of the only officials of the court that can see what is really happening – that Abby is lying and Proctor is telling the truth. We respect him for understanding human nature and not blinding himself to emotions such as love, which is what Danforth is doing.
One of the reasons that this scene is so compelling is that the audience is so sympathetic to the aims of Proctor (the protagonist), and finds Danforth and Parris (the antagonists) so alternately repulsive and incomprehensible, and yet the protagonist is fighting an uphill battle. This makes the scene very tense, as the audience wants Danforth to “see the light” and understand what Proctor is saying, but we cannot tell if it will happen or not.
Something else compelling about the scene is the “little bird” and it’s ‘effect’ upon the girls, and more importantly, Mary Warren. The audience can see Mary cracking as more and more pressure is put upon her as Abigail provokes her by leading the other girls to copy what she says. “Mary: She sees nothin’! Abigail: She sees nothin’! Mary: Abby, you mustn’t! Abigail and all the girls: Abby, you mustn’t!… ” It is easy for the audience to see Mary’s distress and relate to her frustration which makes us more sympathetic towards her.
This part of the scene is also very dramatic when performed, because the girls are screaming and running around, which makes it even more compelling. Miller also uses dramatic irony in this scene, by making it blindingly obvious to the audience that the girls are lying and that Proctor is telling the truth, and yet having Danforth possessing such a basic grasp of human nature that he cannot see what is directly in front of him. This makes the scene supremely frustrating for the audience, who, like Proctor, is helpless to change the course of the tragedy.