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Because the Reverend Samuel Parris is the head of the village's church, he is seen as a servant of God and a religious man who is expected to uphold the laws of God. When his daughter Betty is the first one stricken with "fits" after being seen dancing in the woods with other girls, Parris rails at the group's ringleader Abigail, calling their behavior "heathen." Parris is already under fire in the village for being too highly paid, among other things, and there is a suggestion that his professional position is precarious. He appears very worried about his reputation (he says to Abigail that he has "many enemies"). He is also at odds with John Proctor, who is considered one of the village's most respectable, if opinionated, members. Betty's appearance of being "bewitched" causes the suspicious villagers to wonder if maybe the village's spiritual leader may have feet of clay, that is, if he may be unable to contain the evil of witchcraft when his own household can't be protected from it. Parris is seen from the beginning of the play as both vulnerable and hypocritical, which is a way of commenting upon the position of the Puritan church in the Colonies, as it parallels the political atmosphere surrounding the McCarthy hearings.
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