Why is Parris so hesitant to call the girls' actions witchcraft and so determined to block Proctor's attempt to prove the trials a fraud?

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pmiranda2857's profile pic

pmiranda2857 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Parris is not interested in the truth. He was part of the start of the witch trials, along with Abigail. He called Reverend Hale to come and diagnose Betty's illness. Parris hates John Proctor. His individual choice to not attend church goes against the Puritan belief system. As a Puritan, Proctor should be in church no matter how he feels about the Pastor. This really bothers Parris.

Parris is concerned with his career, his financial status, and nothing else. He doesn't understand what his daughter and Abigail have done in the forest. His own servant, Tituba is at the center of the problem.

Parris is in no way willing to help Proctor, even though innocent people's lives are at stake. He rather enjoys Proctor getting put in his place. He does nothing to stop the execution of Proctor, Nurse or Corey, innocent, upstanding citizens of Salem. He is a coward.

As God's minister on earth, he should be willing to do anything to save good Christian people from a wrongful death.

dneshan's profile pic

dneshan | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Parris plays a very important role in Salem as the village’s reverand.  He would be considered almost as a town mayor in today’s times.  There are many people in Salem, including Proctor and Corey, who are completely against Parris and his ways.  Many people are sick and tired of the way that Parris speaks to them in church and the way that he requests more than any Salem reverend ever has.  In the beginning of Act One, Parris tells the reader, Abigail, and the Putnams that he can not call the girls' actions witchcraft because if witchcraft is found in his house, he will be driven from his position as reverand and his name will be completely ruined.  He can not admit that anything that these girls has done had anything to do with witchcraft for this reason. 

Additionally, he is so determined to block John Proctor's attempt to prove the court and its trials a fraud fo the same reasons.  He will be ruined as a minister and lose everything that he has.  In his mind he thinks, "What kind of reverand wouldn't be able to stop witchcraft and the devil from entering his own home?"  This is clear throughout the play and is even more evident when he finds a dagger stabbed into his door in Act Four; at this point he begins to fear for his life if the trials and the girls are deemed as frauds. 

bookhelpplz's profile pic

bookhelpplz | Student, Grade 9 | eNotes Newbie

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Can someone give book pages plz thanks.

mcnick's profile pic

mcnick | High School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

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There are two reasons that the  Rev. Parris is hesitant to call the girls actions witchcraft.  His reputation is at stake and he wants to stay in control of the town. 

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