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In "The Crucible", Parris says, "Oh, Abigail, what proper payment for my...

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silly1r | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 5, 2008 at 11:23 AM via web

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In "The Crucible", Parris says, "Oh, Abigail, what proper payment for my charity!  Now I am undone!"  What does that mean???

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dymatsuoka | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 5, 2008 at 3:17 PM (Answer #1)

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Reverend Samuel Parris is a pompous man who is very concerned about his reputation.  He has taken in Abigail, an orphan, and does not hesitate to remind her of her debt to him, because "(he) has given (her) a home...(and) put clothes upon (her) back".  Parris had come upon Abigail, his daughter Betty, and others young girls dancing in the night with Tituba, a reputed witch.  Betty now lies senseless, and Parris has been badgering Abigail to confess what exactly they were doing out there in the dark.  Abigail insists that they were only dancing, but when it is revealed that witchcraft was most likely involved, Parris is aghast.  It is neither abhorrence of the deed nor fear for his own daughter's welfare that concerns him most; Parris is horrified that his reputation will be ruined by such close association with evil - ("Now I am undone!") - and he blames Abigail, who apparently should have been more careful of her actions solely because of the charity he had shown her, for spoiling his credibility and tarnishing his good name (Act I, Scene 1).

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shanshansportsfam | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 21, 2008 at 10:15 AM (Answer #2)

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Parris already has a tenuous relationship with many of the families in the church.  His daughter has fallen sick and the townspeople are crying witchcraft.  Abigail was in the woods with his daughter when the girls were supposedly conjuring spirits.  As Parris tries to find out the truth of the night's activities, he blames Abigail, who has been living with him because her parents are dead, for besmirching his name.  The quote essentially says, " I gave you a home and a bed and this is what you do.  You make people in the community believe I and my family are connected to witchcraft.  Thanks a lot."

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