There are several quotations from act I ofThe Crucible that show Mr. Parris's greed and in which his selfishness is evident. For both together, however, the best source is the section of dialogue in which Parris is arguing with John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse about why people no longer...
There are several quotations from act I of The Crucible that show Mr. Parris's greed and in which his selfishness is evident. For both together, however, the best source is the section of dialogue in which Parris is arguing with John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse about why people no longer come to church. Parris abruptly changes the subject and says, without preamble:
Where is my wood? MY contract provides I be supplied with all my firewood. I am waiting since November for a stick, and even in November I had to show my frostbitten hands like some London beggar!
There follows an undignified squabble about Parris's salary. Giles Corey says Parris has a firewood allowance of six pounds a year, and Parris responds:
I regard that six pound as part of my salary. I am paid little enough without I spend six pound on firewood—
The words "I regard" suggest that Parris has simply decided unilaterally to keep the extra six pounds and demand firewood into the bargain. His defense of his position is bluster:
The salary is sixty-six pound, Mr. Proctor! I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College.
In the first place, this is an insult to Proctor and Corey, both of whom are farmers. In the second place, being a Harvard graduate was not particularly impressive in 1692, as there were no other universities in America and even Harvard was very small and provincial. Most of the educated men in and around Salem had graduated from Harvard.
This discussion about Parris's salary and the deeds to his house goes on for some time while Betty lies insensible on the bed and panic rises in Salem. It serves to demonstrate even better than the many other instances in act I the greed and selfishness of Mr. Parris.