In Act 1 of The Crucible, what are some of the conflicts between John Proctor and Reverend Parris?

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scarletpimpernel | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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While Rev. Parris has conflicts with almost everyone in his community, most of his parishioners are not as vocal as John Proctor.  In the middle of the act before Rev. Hale arrives in town, John and the reverend start to butt heads over the need for an expert minister to come to town to "search for the devil in Salem." He demands from Parris,

Then let you come out and call them wrong.  Did you consult the wardens before you called this minister to look for devils?

In addition to his disagreement over the minister calling in Rev. Hale before even consulting the people of Salem, Proctor demonstrates the following problems with Rev. Parris in Act One.

1. He believes that the pastor is basing one's worthiness (when it comes to authority and opinion in the community) on how much land a person possesses. John tells Parris,

We vote by name in this society, not by acreage.

2.  He disagrees with Rev. Parris's constant hellfire and damnation preaching and argues that others in the community do too.

3.  He perceives Rev. Parris's greedy nature (he cites examples of Rev. Parris being the first of Salem's ministers to ask for the deed to the church parish and quibbles with him  over his pay and firewood).

4. Finally, John has sided against the Putnams in the rift which divides the community.  The Putnams are on Parris's side because they like the power it gives them to position themselves with the town's minister, and John is with the Nurses and Coreys because they have had to fight against Putnam's constant scheming to obtain more land.  Because of John's negative feelings toward the Putnams and alliance with Parris's "enemies," Parris is afraid that Proctor will overthrow his authority and drive him out of town.

Miller includes all of these conflicts between the two men to foreshadow the bigger division that will develop in Salem and to hint at the real motivation behind the witch trials.

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