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 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 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. pg93 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. At 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 the 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. pg145 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 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 off 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 begun.