In The Crucible what seems to be Parris's motivation for inadvertently causing hysteria?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The witch trials serve Reverend Parris in several key ways.  At first he was afraid that any sign of witchcraft be found in his household; he was the Reverend after all, and wasn't fitting in well with the city.  If it was discovered that it was his house that was the root of witchcraft, he'd be out of a job for sure.  However, it ends up working in his favor. When witchcraft IS found in his household, and his daughter and niece and servant confess, all of a sudden they are all seen as angels and saviors, come to rescue the town from the devil.  So, people actually start liking Parris and his family more.  Additionally, the scandal keeps anyone from knowing that he caught those same girls dancing in the woods prior to the hysteria.  So, here are some words that indicate how the witch trials are benefitting him:

1.  They keep the focus off of the fact that his daughter and niece were dancing in the woods. When that is mentioned later on in the courts, Parris is quick to defend himself by casting blame, saying Proctor "is blackening my name."  Additionally, when Danforth casts an accusing glare on Parris about the dancing, he simply is able to state, because of the hysteria,

"she were under Tituba's power at that tim, but she is solemn now."

No worries--yes, his family was caught doing the forbidden, but, it wasn't their fault. He is not to blame!

2.  He is able to release steam over old grudges. Again, he casts doubts upon Proctor--Proctor doesn't like Parris, and is very open about that.  Parris resents Proctor's dislike.  So when Proctor comes to prove people innocent, Parris is quick to discredit him, saying, "Beware this man, Your Excellency, this man is mischief."  He is airing his old grudges against Proctor through the backdrop of the trials.  He questions Proctor's knowledge of the bible, and accuses Proctor of trying to overthrow the courts also.

3.  He uses the court's favor of him to show his power and eminence in the city, something he feels he's never had before.  Through the entire trials, he is right there, helping and aiding Danforth.  Before this, he felt belittled and abused in the town. He said,

"I have fought three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to you understand that I have many enemies?...there is a faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit."

Well, once the trials start, no one would dare question him anymore; his place at the church is secure; he has new-found power and respect.

I hope that helps to get you started; good luck!

mahirpatel | Student

Thanks, helped a lot