In The Crucible, why do you think Rev. Parris might have enemies?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Parris is one of the most miserable characters in The Crucible.  He is dissatisfied with his wages, thinking the townspeople aren't valuing him enough.  He reminds them he's been trained (at Harvard) and is not just some itinerant preacher with a Bible; that's his justification for misunderstanding his financial agreement with the town (regarding his allotment for firewood).  He's resentful because his church doesn't have gold candlesticks at the altar, and he's angry that some people in town clearly oppose him.  He's defensive and accusatory and even somewhat paranoid--seeing and taking offense at every turn.  You ask why he might have enemies, and the answer stems from these attitudes he holds toward the people for whom he's supposed to care.  In fact, he is the shepherd and is supposed to care for his flock.  Instead, he consistently refers to them as his enemies, people who are trying somehow to "get him" or catch him in wrongdoing.  In fact, things deteriorate so much that at the end of the play he receives a death threat apparently from his own church people.  It's no wonder, then, that he has created enemies.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fact that Reverend Parris lacks a sense of conviction might help bring light to the fact that he has enemies.  His obsession about appearances is part of why the accusations end up gaining traction.  The disingenuous way in which he carries himself helps to feed accusations that are also insincere.  His concern about his status and prestige would naturally rub people the wrong way because he is supposed to be a figure of austere morality and guidance. Additionally, I think that being Abigail's uncle and not being able to provide any semblance of guidance to her, allowing her to run amok in terms of being able to manipulate others would be another set of conditions as to why he would have enemies.  It seems that Parris is a great example of power without authority, causing resentment within individuals.  Most notable of this group would be the reader.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, Rev. Parris has enemies because he is so arrogant and so obsessed with his status.  He thinks he is so important because he is the pastor and he wants everyone to treat him like he is important.

Just to cite two examples:

  • Think about how he has had that dispute about firewood.  He insists that the villagers should provide him with firewood and he should not have to pay for it because he is the pastor.
  • Second, think about how he wants to have gold candlesticks for the altar.  It's like he is so focused on making sure that his church looks good because that reflects on him.

When someone is arrogant and full of themselves, they usually have enemies.  This is especially true when, like Parris, they demand that other people do the work while they get the benefits.

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the research Miller did to prepare for his play, he found that Parris was new to the area. The play even insinuates that in some of the introductory language about Parris.

Parris' great efforts to defend himself from all fronts makes me curious about his past. Because he is so good at defending himself, I wonder if it has been a habit. If so, Parris has had reason to be in conflict with people before and thus is well-practiced.

Parris seems to also work real hard to impress the magistrates. These guys want to see Proctor go down. Parris has little gumption to stand up for Proctor once he actually sees Proctor's innocence.

Being sneaky and cowardly both make it difficult to have friends, therefore there really is only one other option for relationships: enemies.