The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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How are the golden candlesticks symbolic of Parris' personality?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In act 2, John Proctor complains to Reverend Hale about Reverend Parris's greedy personality by mentioning how Parris insisted on having golden candlesticks at the altar instead of the pewter candlesticks that Francis Nurse fashioned. Proctor goes on to mention that Reverend Parris preached for weeks on end about the need for golden candlesticks until the congregation raised enough money to purchase them. Proctor tells Reverend Hale that every time he looks at the golden candlesticks, he sees his money glaring directly at him, which distracts him from praying. The golden candlesticks symbolically represent Reverend Parris's greedy, materialistic personality. His desire for golden candlesticks emphasizes his superficial, worldly nature and reveals his shallow character. The golden candlesticks also represent Parris's desire for attention and prestige. Parris is more concerned with his outward appearance than helping others with their inherent spiritual matters. He is solely focused on maintaining his esteemed title as spiritual leader of the community and is simply an egotistical, self-centered individual. Instead of using the congregation's money for ministry purposes, Reverend Parris would rather purchase golden candlesticks to enhance his appearance and appease his ego.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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For Proctor, the golden candlesticks represents Parris' own ego.  The fact that he demanded them helps to advance Proctor's case that Parris' ego and self- centered demeanor make him exactly the wrong person to be leading the Parrish.  At the same time, Proctor makes the argument that the golden candlesticks and Parris' insistence upon them represents how he twists spirituality into a materialist exercise.  For Proctor, Parris and the golden candlesticks represents how someone who is meant to speak spiritual truths is more fixated on a materialist pursuit, one that reflects his own ego and sense of flattery as opposed to a selfless worship of the Lord.  It is for this reason that Proctor cannot accept Parris in the role of spiritual leadership and the reason why he no longer attends the church.  The golden candlesticks block Proctor's own view of faith, in his own mind, as they represent so much that is wrong with the leadership of the church and the notion of the Salem church, in general.  For this, reason Proctor sees the golden candlesticks as symbolic of other elements.

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