At this point, Proctor faces a new dilemma and wrestles with his conscience over whether to save himself from the gallows with a confession to a sin that he did not commit. The judges and Hale almost convince him to do so, but in the end, he cannot bring himself to sign his confession. Such an action would dishonor his fellow prisoners, who are steadfastly refusing to make false confessions; more important, he realizes that his own soul, his honor, and his honesty are worth more than a cowardly escape from the gallows. He dies and, in doing so, feels that he has finally purged his guilt for his failure to stop the trials when he had the chance. As his wife says, “he have his goodness now.”
Public support and belief in the trials began to wane for several reasons. Respected ministers started to believe that some innocent people were being accused and executed for witchcraft primarily on unreliable spectral evidence. As the Reverend Increase Mather stated, "It were better than ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned." Also, as the accusations mounted, persons from all walks of life--rich and poor, beggar and merchant--were being accused. Additionally, the accused that originally confessed to witchcraft requested to recant their former confessions. With public confidence in the trials slipping, the cries of the afflicted were steadily ignored, and the accusations eventually stopped. See the Salem Witchcraft essay for a detailed explanation of the events, causes and aftermath of the Salem witch trials.