Characterization of Reverend Samuel Parris in The Crucible” by Eric Repas.
Throughout “The Crucible,” we are introduced to and follow several important characters that Arthur Miller elaborated upon. One of these characters is Reverend Samuel Parris, a bitter minister who came to Salem for unclear reasons.
The reason may have been that he was looking for a small town to control, trying to escape something or someone, or simply wanting a fresh, clean start. Whatever the reason, it is certain that he had no idea what he was starting. If the blame for the Salem Witchcraft Trials were to be traced back to one individual, it would certainly be Reverend Parris. When we are first introduced to Parris, he is at the side of his daughter’s bed praying for her recovery. It is Parris who calls in Hale and other experts to find a cure for his daughter. Once word got out that there were witch hunters in Salem, all hell broke loose. As three warrants were sent out to arrest the supposed witches, the long bloodbath that followed was set into motion.
During the trials, Parris is sure to attack the character of every defendant, leaving no one pure. When Frances Nurse brings a petition with 91 names on it to set Rebecca, Goody Proctor, and Martha Corey free, Parris demands that all those on the list be called in for questioning. Danforth glances at the list and asks, How many names are here?” Frances replies, “Ninety-one, Your Excellency.” Parris, sweating, insists that these people should be summoned. Danforth looks up at him questioningly.
For questioning, Parris attacks Mary Warren harshly when she changes sides to help John Proctor clear his wife’s name. Once Mary claims she can faint at will, he tries to make her prove it. Once he weakens her whole defensive stand, the other girls move in for the kill, forcing her to turn on the man she could have saved. Parris could not let it be proven that the girls were liars, for if it was, both his daughter and niece would be caught in the middle of this elaborate fabrication. Of course, if they were proven to be liars, it would reflect upon his own character and involvement in the bloody game.
In the end of the novel, Parris shows remorse for the whole ordeal. Once John Proctor is sentenced to hang, Parris finally realizes that this has all been wrong. Parris pleads with Elizabeth to convince John to confess so that his life will be spared, for this is blood that will be on Parris’s own hands. But do not be fooled, this is also a selfish act, for if he could have gotten Proctor to confess, it would have justified the other hangings. (pg. 145) Parris (in deadly fear to Elizabeth): Go to him, Goody Proctor! There is time yet!” From outside, a drumroll strikes the air. Parris is startled. Elizabeth jerks about toward the window.
Parris: Go to him! He rushes out the door to hold back his fate. Proctor! Proctor!
Samuel Parris was a man who used the Trials for vengeance – vengeance for everything that had ever happened to him. For once in his life, this man had absolute power. However, once this power was used, his role of importance was taken away by Danforth and others. Maybe it was that once he was knocked off his pedestal, he finally realized all of this was wrong. Maybe by the end of the novel, he finally realized that there were no witches, or it could have been that he just wanted the satisfaction of Proctor’s confession. But whatever it was, it really doesn’t matter now – all are dead and gone.
Without Parris, the Trails would not have escalated to what they became, or maybe they would have never even begun. Category: English.