How far do you consider Parris is to blame for Proctor's death?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In answering this question, I think that one has to make the argument that Parris has a role in furthering the witch trials as opposed to clearly stopping it from the earliest point of the drama.  Parris does not immediately think of the accusations.  It is suggested to him and he can stop them immediately.  Yet, he realizes that in enabling them to continue, he can deflect potential criticism of his own parenting.  At the same time, when the trials begin to take hold, he is able to clearly benefit from the trials.  This inevitably leads to Proctor's death.  Proctor only dies because of his imprisonment due to the fraudulent nature of the trials.  Certainly, Proctor's own transgression with Abigail and his refusal to fully come clean with it is part of the reason he ends up suffering greatly.  Yet, I think that Parris has a significant role in the condition in which Proctor finds himself.  He is unable to escape the responsibility he holds and for this reason, one sees him struggle in Act IV to try to save Proctor, if nothing else to gain some semblance of credibility in the eyes of the public.  Parris recognizes his own role in excess.  It is here where I think that this is where Parris has to considered responsible for what happened to Proctor.

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