What is Abigail's relationship to John and Elizabeth Proctor?  What does Betty hear that makes her clap her hands over her ears and whine?  Why does Reverend Parris feel resentful towards his...

What is Abigail's relationship to John and Elizabeth Proctor?  What does Betty hear that makes her clap her hands over her ears and whine?  Why does Reverend Parris feel resentful towards his parishioners?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Abigail's relationship to John and Elizabeth Proctor is, from the outside, that of an employee to her former employer.  She used to work for the Proctors in their home (in the position which is currently occupied by Mary Warren), but she was let go seven months prior to the start of the story.  Further, Elizabeth Proctor fired her because she was having an affair with John and Elizabeth found out.  She still loves John and seems to believe that he still loves her too.

When Betty claps her hands over her ears, she seems to do so as a result of hearing the words "'going up to Jesus'" being sung below stairs.  Mrs. Putnam assumes that it is because "She cannot bear to hear the Lord's name!" and we don't really get an explanation other than that.  Such a symptom is considered to be a sure sign of someone's being the victim of witchcraft.  Perhaps Betty is simply anxious and the song makes her more so. 

Finally, Parris seems to feel resentful of his parishioners because he believes that a number of them are participating in a "faction that is sworn to drive [him] from [his] pulpit."  Further, he has "fought [...] three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to [him]" and now he feels that it could all come to nothing if they learn of his niece and daughter's activities.  He seems, then, not to have a great deal of respect for the people of Salem -- calling them stiff-necked and implying that they are stubborn and, perhaps, not very intelligent.  Moreover, there is some disagreement about how much he is supposed to earn: sixty pounds plus six for firewood or sixty-six pounds plus firewood.  This seems to be a point of pride for Parris who is "not used to this poverty."  He argues for quite a while with Proctor and Giles Corey over this point.  They will not give him the deed to his home either -- but apparently they never give the minister the deed to this house -- though he believes this shows a lack of confidence in him.

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question