What are the character traits of Parris shown in Act One of The Crucible?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The Reverend Parris distinguishes himself as rather a weak character in Act One. Above all, we are given the impression that he cares far more about his own reputation and public standing than he does abotu the poor figure of Betty lying prostrate in front of him. Note how he quickly moves to try and forestall any comments that Betty's "sickness" has anything to do with witchcraft:

No--no. There be no unnatural cause here. Tell him I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that. Let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There be none.

He also seems to be paranoid to a certain extent, as he talks repeated of his "enemies" and presents his position as being under threat and in danger. Consider what he says to Abigail:

And I pray you feel the weight of truth upon you, for now my ministry's at stake, my ministry and perhaps your cousin's life. Whatever abomination you have done, give me all of it now, for I dare not be taken unaware when I go before them down there.

Parris is therefore presented as a weak character who is obsessed on what others think about him and his standing in the community. The way that he panders to important members of the congregation such as the Putnams show that he is an unprincipled man who cares more about his position and its trappings than he does about moral decency and honesty.

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