In "The Crucible," why is the issue of Parris's salary raised?

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dneshan's profile pic

dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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The issue of Parris’ salary is raised in Act I when he is having a conversation with John Proctor and Giles Corey in which Proctor and Corey are expressing his distaste for Parris.  Parris makes a comment to Giles in which he says,

“Mr. Cory, you will look far for a man of my kind at sixty pound a year!"

The three men continue to argue about how much money Parris gets versus how much he should get.  Parris thinks that he should get that salary, plus own the house that the village provided him with, and get free fire wood to warm his house.  Both Proctor and Corey disagree with this and think that his salary of 60 pounds a year is more than enough.  Additionally, Proctor makes a point of telling Parris that they never had a reverend who demanded as much as Parris has demanded from Salem village.

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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In Act One an argument ensues over whether or not Reverend Parris should allow Reverend Hale to investigate the community for witchcraft. Rebecca and John Proctor are in favor of taking the rational approach by avoiding the dangerous claims of witchcraft, while the Putnam's and Parris wish to investigate the claims. When Proctor suggests that the town should vote on the matter, Thomas Putnam mentions that he has not seen Proctor in church on a Sunday since it last snowed. Proctor defends himself by criticizing Reverend Parris's harsh messages, and Rebecca agrees with John's assessment of Parris's preaching. Reverend Parris attempts to defend his style of preaching and begins to complain about not receiving his seasonal supply of firewood, which was written into his contract. Giles Corey then interrupts by mentioning that Parris is given six pounds per year to purchase his firewood. Parris responds by saying that he regards that six pounds as part of his salary. Parris then says, "I am paid little enough without I spend six pound on firewood" (Miller, 30). Parris continues to defend himself by mentioning that sixty-six pounds per year for an educated man of his caliber is quite a deal for the community. Throughout this argument, the audience learns of Reverend Parris's greedy nature and the deep divide throughout the community of Salem.