Characterization of Reverend Samuel Parris
Throughout The Crucible we are introduced to and follow four or five important
characters that Arthur Miller elaborated upon. One of those characters is Reverend
Samuel Parris, a bitter minister who came to Salem for unclear reasons. That reason may
have been he was looking for a small town to control, maybe he was trying to escape
something or someone, or he may have just wanted a fresh, clean start; whatever that
reason was it is for sure he had no idea what he was going to start. If the blame of the
Salem Witchcraft Trails were to be traced back to one individual it would certainly be
When we are first introduced to Parris he is at the side of his daughters bed
praying for his recovery. It is Parris who calls in Hale and other experts so that a cure
may be found for his daughter. Once word got out that there were witch hunters in Salem
all hell broke loose. As three warrants are sent out to arrest the supposed witches the long
blood bath that is to follow is 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, a petition to set Rebecca, Goody Proctor, and Martha Corey free
Parris demands that all those on the list be called in for questioning.
Danforth, glancing at the list: How many names are here?
Frances: Ninety-one, Your Excellency.
Parris, sweating: These people should be summoned. Danforth
looks up at him questioningly. For questioning.
Parris: This is a clear attack upon the court!
Parris also attacks Mary Warren harshly when she changes sides to help John
Proctor clear his wife’s name. Once Mary claims she fainted at will he tries to make her
prove this, and once he has weakened 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 the liars it
would reflect upon his own character and involvement in the bloody game.
In the end of the novel Parris does show 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 convince so that his life will be spared for this is
blood that will be on Parris’s own hands. But do not be followed this is also a selfish act
for if he could have gotten Proctor to confess it would have justified the other hangings.
Parris (In deadly fear to Elizabeth) : ” Go to him Goody Proctor! There is time
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 as to hold back his fate. Proctor! Proctor!
Samuel Parris was a man who used the Trails for vengeance, vengeance for
everything that has ever happened to him. For once in his life this man had absolute
power, although once this power was used his role of importance was taken away by
Danforth and others. Maybe it was that once he was knocked of his pedestal he finally
realized all this was wrong. Maybe by the end of the novel he finally realized that he was
wrong there were no witches, or it could have been he just wanted the satisfaction of
Proctors 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 just
maybe they would have never even began.