All by accusations itself, over 200 people were killed during the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Trials were such a malevolent time frame that it forced citizens to sacrifice societies needs for themselves. In this play, The Crucible, Arthur Miller effectively portrays Reverend Parris as a greedy and conceited man which motivates him to survive.
Moreover, Reverend Parris’s greed motivates him to survive because he does not want to feel accused since he is quite sensitive and wants to survive during the Salem Witch Trials. One way Reverend Parris defends himself is by including his rank and degrading others. Parris states, “I am not some preaching farmer with a book under my arm; I am a graduate of Harvard College (Miller).” Reverend Parris defends himself in every way possible throughout the story by mentioning his high level education to defend himself from any possible accusation of witchcraft. Reverend Parris is motivated by his greed to sustain because he always wants to be right and will never take no for an answer. “No-no, I cannot have anyone. He sees her, and a certain deference springs into him, although his worry remains. Why, Goody Putnam, come in (Miller).” Parris in every event tries to avoid his name to be used as a household name because it is his best way to stay out of accusations. Both quotes are identical because Reverend Parris is very demanding in his words, by proving himself right with statistics or demand. His selfish behavior motivates him to sacrifice others for himself and control what you say. Furthermore, with his greedy behavior, comes his insecurities about his reputation.
Throughout The Crucible, Reverend Parris is also insecure about his reputation and what others think of himself. He does not like when someone else in his family is in trouble. Betty fell sick after the ritual outside, and Parris replies with, “Now look 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 (Miller).” Parris is defined as rude, and even for himself he would yell at her daughter for making him look bad. This explains Reverend Parris’s greed, by displaying his controlling and malevolent nature toward his family, just to protect himself. “just now when some good respect is rising for me in the parish, you compromise my very character. I have given you a home, child, I have put clothes upon your back—now give me upright answer. Your name in the town—it is entirely white, is it not (Miller).” Reverend Parris is easily offended, and puts the blame to others, like Abigail Williams, for making him look bad because of the trouble she has gotten into. Parris looks at himself rather than thinking about Betty or Abigail. Parris’s reputation motivates him to look the best and make everyone else feel as if he is the most important person in The Crucible, however he may be contradicting his own methods because he will be too known, and too under control leaving room for accusations.
To conclude, Parris’s greed ultimately controls his rude and condescending behavior to others, and by forcing others to respect him, he feels that the world would better be that way. Reverend Parris’s motivation is guided with greed, the need to survive and show reputation and control over others, to survive and not be accused of Witchcraft. Death is an unimaginably horrible topic, especially when you are put in a position where you only have two options, and that one is not available.
- Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Holt McDougal Literature: Texas American Literature. By Janet Allen. Evanston, IL: Holt McDougal, a Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2010. 136-212. Print.
- Blumberg, Jess. “A Brief History of the Salem Witch Trials.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 23 Oct. 2007, www.smithsonianmag.com/history/a-brief-history-of-the-salem-witch-trials-175162489/.