What does Reverend Parris reveal about his niece Abigail in The Crucible?

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In addition to revealing that he found Abigail and her friends dancing in the forest and "traffick[ing] with spirits," Reverend Parris's conversation with her also reveals to the audience that Abigail's reputation in the town is likely not as spotless as it should be.  He asks her, "Your name in...

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In addition to revealing that he found Abigail and her friends dancing in the forest and "traffick[ing] with spirits," Reverend Parris's conversation with her also reveals to the audience that Abigail's reputation in the town is likely not as spotless as it should be.  He asks her, "Your name in the town—it is entirely white, is it not?"  He thinks it is odd that she was "discharged" from her position at the Proctors' household seven months ago and that no one else has offered to hire her again in that time.  Further, Reverend Parris has also heard a rumor that Goody Proctor has told people that she does not want to come to church anymore because she refuses to "sit so close to something soiled," implying that Abigail is dirty or sinful.  When her uncle asks her about her reputation, Abigail gets immediately defensive and starts to disparage Elizabeth Proctor.  In fact, she gets so angry so quickly that it makes it seem as though she really is guilty of something (and we find out, soon enough, that she is).

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In the beginning, Parris discovers Abigail dancing in the woods with her friends.  He doesn't reveal it at first because he feels her behavior can ruin him.  However it eventually comes out after Hale comes to town.  Abigail in turn blames everything on Tituba.

Later in the play, he reveals that Abigail and Mercy Lewis have run away and that Abigail stole from him.

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Parris summoned the two judges back to Salem because his niece, Abigail, and Mercy Lewis have vanished after robbing him of all of his money. Parris believes the girls may have been frightened by the rumors of the rebellion in Andover against the court.

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In the conversation between Rev. Parris and Abigail in Act 1, we learn several things about both characters. Abigail is an orphan and is Rev. Parris' niece. He took her in after her parents' deaths, and helped her to get a job as a domestic (housekeeper) in the Proctor household. She was subsequently fired and has not found another job in the seven months since she left that house. This is disturbing to Rev. Parris, both because it makes Abigail his responsibility (which he does not feel he can afford) and because her dismissal gives rise to gossip. Parris is concerned with his image in the town of Salem, and cannot have Abigail's "soiled" reputation making an impact on him. Add to this the discovery of the girls dancing in the woods, and Parris has no choice but to press Abigail for the truth he wants to hear.

It is after Parris goes downstairs to lead his congregation in prayer that we learn more about the circumstances surrounding Abigail's dismissal. Parris is not off-base when he inquires about the state of Abigail's name in the village.

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