In The Crucible, how does Miller characterize Parris and his feelings towards parishioners?

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In addition, Reverend Parris seems to really look down on his parishioners in Salem.  Early in Act 1, when he is trying to convince Abigail, his niece, to be honest with him about her reputation and recent activities in the forest, he says to her, "Abigail, I have fought here...

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three long years to bend these stiff-necked people to me [...]."  He seems to view his congregation as stubborn, and perhaps even difficult or slow, as "stiff-necked" seems to imply a number of negative qualities like these.  In addition, the need that he feels to "bend" them to his will indicates that he sees them less as people that he leads down a righteous path and more like animals for him to control (we "break" horses, and the like). 

Further, Parris later suggests something even more outlandish when speaking with John Proctor.  As they argue about money, Parris says, "I cannot offer one proposition but there be a howling riot of argument.  I have often wondered if the Devil be in it somewhere; I cannot understand you people otherwise."  Referring to his parishioners as "you people" is hardly a sensitive or inclusive way of speaking; he views himself as separate, set apart, and apparently above them.  He even suggests that they have some link to the Devil or else they would never treat him as they do.

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In “The Crucible”, Arthur Miller characterizes Reverend Parris as a man who is more concerned with his own reputation than anything else.  His daughter is seemingly bewitched, yet all he seems to worry about is whether or not he will be overthrown while he takes the time to argue over land and money with John Proctor, Giles Corey, and Thomas Putnam in Act 1 of the play.  While questioning his niece about what happened in the woods, he is also worried about reputation when he questions her own, thinking that any bad reputation on her part would fall back on him.  Additionally, when the Putnams begin to lay the blame of Betty and Ruth’s sicknesses on witchcraft, Parris refuses to allow this information to leave his house because he thinks that since it began in his house that he will be blamed and overthrown from his position as Salem’s reverend.  Parris fears his congregation because he knows that they have the power to get rid of him, therefore everything that he does seems to be more to appease the congregation than to help his own family in such horrendous situations.  Parris is self-centered, egotistical, and money-hungry and worries more about what other people think of him than about what he can do to help out in the situation.

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How does Miller characterize Parris in The Crucible?

To me, Parris seems characterized as cautious and nervous. What I find most ironic about such characterization is that Parris, if a holy man, should have no fear of others opinions if he is indeed right with God and his heart is pure.

This is not how Miller paints him. I see Parris watching his back. He works to hide the situation of his daughter Betty from his congregation. He fears having them know that the demonic has had power over his family.

Parris feels his parishioners are out to get him. He feels cheated by them. There was a discrepancy over his annual salary. He thought his salary should be 66 pounds a year plus firewood. His parish understood the salary to be 60 pounds a year and 6 pounds worth of firewood. When he is issued the latter of the two he is disappointed and feels slighted.

Because John doesn't regularly come to church, Parris judges his holiness. He finds Proctor less of a man because of his faithlessness to church attendance. That is not the measure of a man, Parris will soon learn what is.

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How does Miller characterize Parris in The Crucible?

To me, Miller shows Rev. Parris as something of a weak man.  He characterizes Parris as someone who will go along with what the public wants but who is also very protective of his image in the eyes of the people.  We can see this in how Parris reacts when Betty is found in the woods.  He is concerned mostly with the way it will affect his image.

As far as his parishoners, I would say that Parris looks down on them a bit.  He wants them to obey him without questioning.  We can see this in his argument with John Proctor.  Parris seems to get very angry whenever there is any suggestion of people disagreeing with him or of people not giving him the amount of respect that he thinks he deserves.

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