Why should Abigail's escapades worry Reverend Parris?

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From the beginning of The Crucible, Arthur Miller makes it clear that Reverend Parris is concerned about his reputation above all else. If it is found out that his niece, Abigail, was dancing in the woods, he would be subjected to a great deal of criticism and possibly lose his position. Even worse, though would be the discovery that the girls were taking part in witchcraft. In Act I, he says to Abigail,

Now look you, child, your punishment will come in its time. But if you trafficked with spirits in the forest I must know it now, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it.

Parris’s concern clearly is focused on his own status in Salem. He needs to know exactly what Abigail was up to because he knows her actions will reflect on him. Parris knows that Abigail’s reputation is already questionable. He asks her if her name in the town is “entirely white,” implying that the people already know she is not the best example of morality by Salem’s standards. At this point, Parris is desperately trying to gain control of the situation in order to keep his status intact. As the play goes on, it is Abigail who gains control of the situation and leads the charge in accusing innocent people of witchcraft. Parris goes along with this, thinking it will work to his advantage, but when the more respected people of the town, including John Proctor and Rebecca Nurse, become accused, people start making death threats to Parris. This, again, shows the effect Abigail’s actions have on his reputation and his status in Salem.



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