What is the role of Reverend Parris in act three of The Crucible?
As the Salem court convenes to begin the witchcraft trials, Parris inserts himself into the proceedings. The magistrates in charge are Danforth and Hathorne, and Parris has no official standing. That fact does not, however, prevent him from interfering. Because Hathorne and Danforth are not Salem citizens, they do not know the accused, but Parris attempts to shape their perceptions. When Giles Corey arrives at the court, for instance, Parris describes him to Danforth as "contentious." When John Proctor speaks up, Parris interrupts and tells Danforth, "Beware this man, Your Excellency, this man is mischief." When Mary Warren confesses that what the girls were doing was "pretense," Parris once again interjects and protests, "Excellency, you surely cannot think to let so vile a lie be spread in open court!"
When attention turns to John Proctor, Parris actually begins to interrogate him by asking him if he reads "the gospel." When Proctor persists in his defense of Elizabeth, Martha, and Rebecca, Parris tells Danforth, "He's come to overthrow the court, Your Honor!" Mary Warren's deposition gets Danforth's attention, and when he begins to read it with interest, Parris once again interjects himself to protest until Danforth has finally had enough and tells him to "be silent." However, Parris is not able to maintain silence for long and reinserts himself in the proceedings. Parris exults when John Proctor loses his temper at the end of the act and denounces God. Parris has been working against his political enemies from the beginning of the hysteria, and Proctor's outburst pleases Parris because he knows the consequences will be catastrophic for Proctor.
Throughout Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Reverend Parris has constantly been worried about his own reputation. Even when is daughter, Betty, is found to be ill, his main concern is the blackening of his own name (given that his home is identified as the beginning of the rumors surrounding witchcraft). Over the course of the play, Parris constantly worries about how others perceive him and his position as the clergy for the town.
In act three of the play, Abigail is found to be lying by the court. Instead of protecting his niece, Parris is only concerned with his own welfare. He states that Proctor has only been concerned with ruining him. That said, Parris turns the trial's attention to himself and tries to, once again, protect his own future.
The role of Parris in this act is to illuminate the idea that many of the villagers in Salem are only concerned with their own well-being. Regardless of what is going on around them, and who is being wrongfully accused, Parris fails to act as a reasonable and God fearing man. Instead, as stated, his only concern is himself.