English - Parris
Parris is the first character the audience meets in _The Crucible_. We
first see him kneeling in prayer before his daughter who lies inert on a
bed. He is dressed in his 'robes' and appears to be all that a man of God
should be. Our initial opinion of Parris is subverted as the play
progresses and he is revealed to be a self-righteous, greedy, desperate
man. Miller's commentary that states "In history he cut a villainous path,
and there is very little good to be said for him" succinctly sums up
Through his behaviour and relations with other characters, Parris is seen
to be a pessimistic and demanding man. He believes himself to be superior
to his parishioners, "I AM NO FARMER WITH BOOKS UNDER MY ARM, I AM A
GRADUATE OF HARVARD COLLEGE", and he treats many in his parish with
disdain. His agitated state in Act one, as seen by his constant movement,
questioning of others, weeping and breathlessness, indicates that he has
something to fear.
The most striking evidence of Parris' character comes from the contrast
between him and Proctor. Whereas Parris is agitated, nervous and almost
hysterical at the predicament he finds himself in, Proctor appears calm,
rational and wise. The audience is more likely to form an allegiance to
Proctor, who represents commonsense, than the anxious Reverend Parris.
Hence, when Proctor speaks negatively about Parris the audience is inclined
to believe him.
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