In this quotation, how is Parris afraid to conform to society and how does this relate to his reputation? "Parris: Thomas, Thomas, I pray you, leap not to witchcraft. I know that you, - you...
In this quotation, how is Parris afraid to conform to society and how does this relate to his reputation? "Parris: Thomas, Thomas, I pray you, leap not to witchcraft. I know that you, - you least of all, Thomas, would ever wish so disastrous a charge laid upon me. We cannot leap to witchcraft. They will howl me out of Salem for such corruption in my house." (Act 1, pg 12)
Putnam is trying to strong arm Parris into accepting and broadcasting the idea that there are witches in the town, saying, "I have taken your part in all contention here, and I would continue; but I cannot if you hold back in this. There are hurtful, vengeful spirits layin' hands on these children." Putnam is a powerful man, and Parris would love to have Putnam on his side in this. However, in the sense that most of Salem society who has heard about Betty Parris and Ruth Putnam's strange illness is ready to attribute it to witchcraft, Parris is afraid to conform to and embrace this idea.
One man said, and Mrs. Putnam repeats the story to Parris, that he saw Betty fly over one resident's barn and "come down light as [a] bird [...]." The Putnams whole-heartedly believe that witchcraft is at the root of their own problems as well as the girls' illness, as do the people who have thronged the "crowded parlor," underneath Betty's bedroom in Parris's house. However, Parris is afraid that if he confirms the existence of witchcraft in the town, his enemies "will howl [him] out of Salem [...]," especially because his niece and daughter were dancing in the woods the night before and would appear to have had some hand in it. Parris thinks that if news of what the girls were doing (conjuring the spirits of the Putnams' dead babies), he will lose his position and all authority.
I wonder if perhaps you left a word out of the question. I think that it should say something like "afraid not to conform to society." To me, the quote (along with the rest of Parris's character) shows that he really wants people to think that he is normal and is therefore worthy to be their minister.
In this quote, Parris is begging Thomas Putnam to stop talking about witchcraft. He does not want people to think that this sort of thing goes on in his house because they would disapprove of him so strongly. He thinks that he has to be a good example if he is to be a minister.