Why do Proctor and Rebecca speak out against Hale's arrival? Why does Proctor set himself against Parris in Act 1?

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gmuss25's profile pic

gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Distinguished Educator

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In Act 1, Abigail admits to John Proctor that her uncle simply caught them dancing in the woods and that Betty has "gone silly some-how." Abigail then dismisses any notion of witchcraft when Proctor mentions that the entire town has been mumbling about it. Later on in the scene, Rebecca advises Parris to send Reverend Hale back home because she fears that his presence will stir up old feuds throughout the community. She also believes that there is a "prodigious danger" in seeking spirits. Proctor knows that there is no witchcraft in Salem because Abigail told him that she was only dancing in the woods.

As was mentioned in the previous post, Proctor believes that Parris is a selfish, discouraging man. Proctor tells Parris that he is sick of hearing him preach about hellfire and damnation every Sunday. Proctor also disagrees with Parris' decision to demand the deed to his house as well as his insistence on having gold candlesticks. Proctor dislikes Parris because Parris is a greedy, negative individual with no redeeming qualities.

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teacherscribe's profile pic

teacherscribe | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Rebecca and Proctor both realize that Hale's coming to Salem can only mean trouble.  They are well aware that his arrival may fuel the hysteria brewing in Salem.  Rebecca knows that it is just young girls either scared or playing a joke.  Proctor, of course, knows that it was Abigail with the other girls foolishly playing in the woods.  But once Hale arrives, the girls realize how dire their situation is, and they begin to invent the tales of witchcraft.

Proctor sets himself against Parris because he realizes Parris is greedy and self-serving.  He stopped going to church when Parris harped on the congregation until they relented and raised enough money to purchase gold candle holders.  For Proctor this is a waste and just serves to prove how greedy Parris really is.

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renelane | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

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Proctor and Rebecca Nurse represent reason in the play. Proctor feels that the situation is spinning out of control due to Parris's handling of the situation. Proctor and Parris have a turbulent relationship. Proctor finds Parris's demands for compensation outrageous, and hypocritical for a man of God. He is also not someone who hides his disdain well, so Parris is well aware of his dislike.

Rebecca feels that the situation is nothing more than silly girls rebelling. She feels if they do not pay too much attention that it will resolve itself on its own. Rebecca feels the girls are just putting on an act.

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