What is the conflict between John Proctor and Reverend Parris in The Crucible?

Expert Answers
gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the play, both characters challenge each other, as Proctor ends up fighting for his life and Reverend Parris does his best to remain in his important position. Initially, John Proctor disagrees with Reverend Parris's decision to send for Reverend Hale to investigate the use of witchcraft. Reverend Parris believes that John Proctor is part of a faction attempting to usurp his power and immediately challenges him by mentioning his unflattering Sunday service attendance. John Proctor then begins to discuss why he doesn't support Reverend Parris and mentions that Parris only preaches about Hell. Proctor also views Reverend Parris as a greedy, selfish man who is more concerned about his wealth and status than his obligation to serve the Lord. Proctor cannot stand that his tithe money is spent on golden candlesticks and even refuses to have his child baptized by Reverend Parris. Reverend Parris sees Proctor's adversity as an attempt to overthrow his authority and tries to convince the Court officials that Proctor is a rogue troublemaker who should burn with the other witches.

e-martin eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Proctor feels that Parris is selfishly abusing the power of his position in Salem. Parris complains that his salary is too small and insists that he be given firewood. Proctor feels that Parris has no regard for God and thinks only of himself and of money. 

Early in the play the differences between the men are energetically debated. At one point Parris criticizes Proctor for not attending church. Proctor responds by outlining the various abuses he feels Parris is making through his position as reverend. 

He says: 

"...the last meeting I were at you spoke so long on deeds and mortgages I thought it was an auction."

Parris then expresses his belief that there is a group setting up against him (Parris) and that Proctor is part of that group. This is not true, but in anger Proctor says that if such a group exists he will join it. 

The basic problem Parris has with Proctor stems from Parris' understanding that his position in Salem is not secure. This is a result of his own behavior. He will not admit this much, but is quick to address the issue of his own insecurity in Salem and to defend that position in whatever ways he feels he can. This includes attacking Proctor (a man who openly challenges him) and supporting the witchtrials (to deflect attention from the fact that his daughter was caught dancing naked in the woods at midnight). 

Here is a character analysis video:

tosi1ae | Student

John doesn't like that Parris seems to care more about money than he does about his parish. John says in the play that he didn't go to church as often as he should because he couldn't stand seeing the golden candle sticks on the alter that Parris preached about until he got them from the parish. Parris doesn't like John because Jonh doesn't hide how he feels about him and he is well liked and respected in town and Parris isn't.

naanao | Student

john thinks revrend paris is not genuine and is only interested in his wellbeing.while Reverend Paris is dislikes Proctor for not subjecting to his authority