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The misgivings of Reverend Parris are not immediately unraveled to the reader in Act I. However, Miller writes in his preface that Parris has less than redeeming qualities for a man of God, and it is clear that he demands both preferential treatment and the awarding of goods and services that he does not necessarily deserve nor has worked for.
However, it is important to note that, while these specifics are not brought up in Act I, there is evidence of Reverend Parris's want for power...and his desire to keep it at all costs.
For example, he mentions early in Act I
I am your third preacher in seven years. I do not wish to be put out like the cat...
Moreover, he is adamant that he is the man in charge, that his position renders him more important and influential than everyone else, and he is more than willing to let everyone know this
You people seem not to comprehend that a minister is the Lord’s man in the parish; a minister is not to be so lightly crossed and contradicted…
Aside from this, Parris asks Abigail about her time in service, and he is vexed that the dealings of his family will put his position and the reputation of his family at odds with the villagers. Eventually it will unfold that the blackmail and persecution that will occur in the village will lead Parris to use his position to bully and upset others.
Reverend Parris argues in the first act with John Proctor about his salary and his ancillary benefits. Proctor accuses Parris of abusing his position and craving selfishly and materialistically after more than his due.
Proctor points to two examples of Parris' greed. Parris demands that he be given firewood on top of his salary. (Proctor says that part of the salary is specifically designated as firewood money.) Parris also is the first minister to demand the deed to the house that the community has provided to him to live in.
Instead of accepting the generosity of the town in supplying him with a free place to live, Parris demands that he be given the deed of ownership to the house, changing his legal position to one of greater material power.
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