How do Reverend Parris's parishioners feel about him? Why?

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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The parishioners feel Reverend Parris is not as interested in their souls as he is his own pocket. He is suspicious and resentful of anyone who doesn't agree with him. He makes the village give him the deed to his house, something they have never given to a reverend before. Parris wants gold candlesticks in the church rather than pewter ones. He preaches "hellfire and brimstone" on Sundays, scaring his parishioners rather than ever talking about a forgiving, loving God. He is more concerned about his own reputation than what is wrong with his daughter at the beginning of the play. Miller doesn't present Parris as a likable character in the play.

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Jamie Wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

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The sentiments of the parishoners of Roanoake split: some are understandly fearful of their "moral" leader, feeling that he knows whether or not they are saved or damned. This faction buys into his rhetoric that obedience to the Church, and him, are of the utmost importance. ("There will be obedience or the the church will burn like Hell is burning!")

But others have become wary of his quavering authority and Parris know it. He speaks repeatedly in Act One of his "enemies" who would have him ousted. These people know that he is mercenary (witness the grilling about his salary) and condones slavery (Tituba is his "property"). Further, he undermines his own authority by calling for outside reinforcements (in the form of other pastors) to come assess the situation with the girls, leaving them to wonder further about his spirtitual integrity.


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