The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How does John Proctor feel about Reverend Parris in the first act of The Crucible?

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David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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John Proctor sees through Reverend Parris right from the start. He knows that, for Parris, the witch-craze is just a means to an end, a way of bolstering his power and status among the people of the town. This explains why he opposes Parris's decision to send for Reverend Hale to investigate alleged cases of witchcraft. He senses straight away that the whole judicial process will have more to do with maintaining Parris's grip on power than getting at the truth of things. Parris may preach hellfire and damnation, but Proctor sees him for the worldly hypocrite that he really is. He's so distrustful of Parris that he even refuses to have his child baptized by him. Proctor's instincts turn out to be entirely correct. Unfortunately for him, no one else appears able to see what's right in front of them.

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Proctor sees through Parris' claims of piety and does not consider him an authority nor a leader.

Proctor despises Parris' attempts to rule by fear of Hell. When Putnam accuses Proctor not having moral authority because he does not regularly attend Sabbath meetings, Proctor replies to both Parris and Proctor. He scornfully says, " I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation. Take it to heart, Mr. Parris. There are many others who stay away from church these days because you hardly ever mention God anymore."

He also questions his motivations as to money rather than faithfulness. When Parris incredulously asks if he should not even be given a home to live in, Proctor responds, "To live in, yes. But to ask ownership is like you shall own the meeting house itself; the last meeting I were at you spoke so long on deeds and mortgages I thought it were an auction."

Though others have their doubts and suspicions about Parris, Proctor alone is man enough to voice them.

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