Is there any significance to Parris being nicer to Proctor at the end of The Crucible?
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I had to edit down the original question. I think that Parris is more of a broken man by the time the final act of the drama takes place. It is evident that Parris is not enjoying the same level of stature that he had from the start of the drama and during the trials. Abigail's disappearance and embezzlement along wiht the situation in Andover have helped to erode much of his public support. Parris' supposed change in demeanor towards Proctor is more of a ploy to try to get Hale to force a confession from prisoners like Proctor. A confession would enable Parris to enjoy a resurgence is stature, something he desperately needs. In this light, one can see that Parris has not really changed, at all. He is still using people as means to a specific end. He is still in the belief that somehow he can manipulate others to get what he wants. He still operates with a spirit of duplicity in his interactions with other people. His "niceness" to Proctor is more of a ploy to prompt a potential confession and is more about Parris' own sinking position in Salem society than anything else. While Parris is more broken and less powerful in the final act, he has not really changed in terms of recognition of his own wrong. He still thinks that there is a way for him to enjoy a level of political prestige and social advancement that he once had. It becomes critical to view him in this light in order for him to fully understand how politics and power becomes of central importance in analyzing the trial and its effect on Salem.
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