How would you compare the characters of John Proctor and Rev Parris in The Crucible?Are both characters affected by jealousy, reputation and resentment?

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favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Parris is absolutely motivated by jealousy, reputation, and resentment. When the play begins, although his daughter is strangely sick and he cannot find the cause, he seems more concerned about his reputation than her health. He questions Abigail about their activities in the forest, but it is out of fear for his status. He says,

if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it. . . . It must come out—my enemies will bring it out. Let me know what you done [in the forest]. Abigail, do you understand that I have many enemies?

Here, Parris asks his niece to be honest with him about what she's done because he's afraid that his enemies will find out and then seek to use the information against him. He is very afraid of damage to his reputation and authority. This, in part, contributes to his resentment of those that he feels are his enemies. When he brings up his salary concerns, we see this. He says,

My contract provides I be supplied with all my firewood. I am waiting since November for a stick, and even in November I had to show my frostbitten hands like some London beggar. . . . I am not used to this poverty; I left a thrifty business in the Barbados to serve the Lord. I do not fathom it, why am I persecuted here?  

Parris resents what he perceives as his poverty; he resents his treatment by these individuals who do not seem to appreciate the sacrifices he makes or how meanly he must live. He is also jealous of other men in the town who he have better reputations than he; further, he envies the standing of men like John Proctor, a man he very much resents.

John Proctor, on the other hand, is really not motivated by jealousy, resentment, or reputation. He, instead, is motivated by a desire to be a good person, to live in an upright way, and to make things right with his wife, Elizabeth.  

missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is a great question because one has an upstanding character (Proctor) wherein the other really should have the stronger character (Parris).

Both are affected by jealousy but differently. Abigail is jealous of Elizabeth, Proctor's wife. Abigail would like to be with Proctor, so he is the instrument of her jealousy. Parris, on the other hand, suffers from comparison to other ministers and would like to be presented well in the eyes of the people, which leads to reputation.

Parris has a complex, from prior to the story to the end, he feels like people are always blaming him. I think the reason he works so hard to help the magistrates is because he doesn't want to be accused of witchcraft himself. His defense of what happened to his daughter and the salary he thinks he deserves contributes to this.

Proctor is worried about his reputation afore God... Parris should be but he cares about people's thoughts. Proctor doesn't.

Proctor is not resentful, Parris is. You see this in the end. Proctor and his wife work out their differences as she confesses her pushing him to lechery (cheating). Neither of them hold this against each other. Parris hangs onto long-standing judgments he thinks people have of him but they are not necessarily real.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In my opinion, the character of Rev. Parris is definitely one who has all of those characteristics.  He is jealous of other people who have more power.  He resents those who do not give him what he thinks he deserves (power, the ability to own the house he lives in, free wood, etc).  He is very worried about having his reputation ruined (like by Better being involved with witches.

To me, Proctor does not have any of these.  He is affected by Abby being jealous, but he himself is not jealous.  His main thing, to me, is guilt.  He feels guilty for his affair with Abby.

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The Crucible

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