Why does Parris support the witch trials?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Parris is made to understand from a very early point in the drama that he can use the trials to consolidate his own power in the town.  It is evident from the earliest moments that Parris is insecure about his position in the town.  Miller's stage directions help to bring out a vision of an individual that is constantly paranoid of others and sees everyone as a threat.  In this, the witch trials give him an issue upon which he can latch.  Parris recognizes that in making the fear of witches an issue, he can benefit.  He uses and supports the witch trials because it enables him to consolidate his power over the town.  People look to him as an authority figure, above and beyond reproach during the trials because of the fear of witches.  In this, Parris recognizes early on the political benefit of the trial.  It is for this reason that Parris supports the trials because it will distract from the real and substantive issues that plague Salem and could threaten to undermine his own authority.  Rather, he is able to enjoy the trappings of power as long as everyone in the town is living in constant fear and paranoia of witches.  For this reason, Parris supports the witch trials.


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