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How does Puritan society affect Parris' perception of reputation?

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kiran423 | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 21, 2012 at 9:47 PM via web

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How does Puritan society affect Parris' perception of reputation?

Tagged with literature, the crucible

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akannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 21, 2012 at 10:42 PM (Answer #1)

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Miller's stage directions help to provide a glimpse into how Parris' perception of reputation is impacted by Puritan society.  When Miller describes how children behave in Salem or how they are expected to behave, it provides insight into the type of social setting in Salem.  Miller suggests that children were to "be seen and not heard."  Their reputation is determined by how they acted in front of others and little they could do to bring down their reputation would be tolerated.  In some respects, this is the same social configuration that governs the adults and their own situation in Salem.  For Parris, his reputation is governed by how he thinks Salem society thinks of him.  It is for this reason that so much of how he acts is dependent on how others will perceive him.  In doing so, Parris is trapped by the gaze of Puritan society.  Puritan society's impression of him is of vital importance in terms of his reputation.  He is in constant fear of not engendering a positive impression from Salem society to help his reputation. When Betty does not awaken, he is afraid as to what Salem society will think of him and his reputation.  When the trials have lost public credibility, he is afraid of how others will perceive him in his reputation.  Parris is indeed trapped by the gaze of Puritan society in how it will feed his reputation, and his perception of self can only be seen through the eyes of "the other."

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