Analyse Reverend Parris Play
Analyse Reverend Parris and his inspirations in supporting the witch trials.
The crucible play is set in 17th century Puritan Massachusetts in America. This would have indicated the location would be relatively recently lived in by immigrants and there still may be issues from Native Americans. The society probably would have been rather close-knit and any allegations of witchcraft would quickly have actually resulted in hysteria in a method that was only possible in modern days because of the media.
Reverend Parris would have had numerous reasons for supporting the witch trials. Many of these were selfish and for security of his own image, which he required to do because in the setting of the Salem Witch Trials peoples image were their crucial element, we understand this due to the fact that the very first 3 individuals to be accused of witchcraft were all social misfits such as Osborn who, “was old, quarrelsome, and had not participated in church for over a year.
” Other factors included jealousy, specifically of Proctor who in his presence “a fool felt his absurdity instantly”. As well as this there was his responsibility as a Reverend
Initially we understand Parris was extremely greedy due to the fact that he wanted things like “golden candle sticks” on his preaching altar, despite the fact that his church is Puritan and therefore suggested to be extremely simple “their creed forbade anything resembling a theatre or ‘vain satisfaction’”. This might also have actually been a motivation for supporting the witch trials because the land of individuals like John Proctor would have been taken after he was hung.
Reverend Parris was also really paranoid about his position in the town and about conspiracies to ‘drive him from his pulpit’. Another piece of proof from the play that portrays his fear is that he ‘felt insulted if somebody rose to shut the door without very first asking his permission’. This reveals paranoia because he believes the slightest error in his presence is made as a serious insult. All of this is supported by how Miller explains him with “he believed he was being maltreated wherever he went”.
This is the second motivation for supporting the trials because if he destroys all his opposition by having them hung or sent to prison for witchcraft his own public standing will be safe. This theory is also basically what the whole Salem witch trials play is about, because all the way through we see a repetition of people blaming others to save their skins. A perfect example of this is on ‘HTTP://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Crucible’ where it describes a very desperate Mary “Mary becomes completely desperate and turns on John Proctor, saying that he is in league with the Devil.”
We know already Parris is very selfish and also very keen to protect and even increase his self image. So when witch craft is first mentioned he becomes very nervous and tries to stop any talk of the subject, ‘put out all thoughts of unnatural forces’. This could be for several reasons. First he wants to protect Abigail, although from what we have seen of the Parris character so far he probably is not that bothered about this. The main reason for Parris wanting people not to talk about the witchcraft is because if Abigail, who is his own Niece, is linked to witchcraft then he may be driven from his pulpit by the conspiracy group he thinks is already fighting him.
There is even the possibility that Abigail could be seen as a Harlot after Proctor accuses it and it becomes clear that the reason for Abigail’s grudge against the Proctors is because she was put “out for a harlot”. We know that he thinks there is a conspiracy group because of the quote, “there is a faction”. When he finally does realise that the talk of witchcraft is inevitable he starts to support the trials to try and take the blame from Abigail and on to her so called bewitchers. He also knows if the trial fails and Abigail is labelled a liar then the entire family may be known as liars, this in turn would be devastating to his already troubled career.
The final motivation for Reverend Parris supporting the witch trials is jealousy. Jealousy is obviously one of Parris’ characteristics and he is jealous of John Proctor. Reverend Parris would have several reasons for being jealous of Proctor; firstly he is well respected in the Salem community, ‘Proctor, respected and feared’, this cannot be said for Parris, Proctor is also quite wealthy with a lot of land and for a greedy Parris the prospect of seizing this would be very appealing! The final reason for Parris being jealous of Proctor and maybe even hating him is that Proctor is simply a good and honest man. Then there is Parris who ‘there is very little good to be said of him’.
Reverend Parris is meant to be a respectful member of Puritan society. However, before he moved to Salem he was a sugar plantation owner, owned slaves (such as Tituba) and was thought to have been a credit agent for other plantation owners. This quite shrewd and probably selfish personality shows in the crucible for instance when Abigail runs away he doesn’t care for her but says “thirty one pound is gone” then says “I am penniless”.
This evaluation provides a good background to why Parris supported the witch trials. So overall Parris supports the Salem Witch trails because of a mixture of jealousy of Proctor, protecting his and his families image, a hatred of heathens and therefore witches, paranoia about the danger of his position as local Reverend and possibly the most important reason of all… is his greed. He wanted more pay and even gold candlesticks for his altar.
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