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The play opens with Rev. Parris, Abigail, and eventually Tituba trying to awake the reverend's daughter Betty. She is unresponsive to their words and touch and seems to be in a comalike state. Most would assume that Rev. Parris's concern would lie with his daughter's health, but instead, he questions Abigail about her and Betty's behavior in the forest. Betty became "ill" after Parris caught the town's girls in the woods; so Parris naturally assumes that there is a connection between their activity and his daughter's current condition.
The town's minister's chief concern is referenced in Arthur Miller's background information. Parris is not a popular pastor and was not unanimously brought to Salem. Additionally, he has made some enemies in the town by preaching on materialistic desires (gaudy candlesticks, higher pay) and brimstone and fire. He seems to do nothing to encourage his parishoners. Thus, as Rev. Parris questions Abigail, he worries that his enemies will use his lack of control over his household to bring about his downfall.
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