In The Crucible, a play about the Salem witch trials of 1692, by Arthur Miller,
the character of Reverend Parris displays hypocrisy. Priest are generally
considered good, honest people, but Parris lies to the community, he puts his
ministry in front of his daughters life, and tries to help himself before
helping the community. Even when Parris’s daughter is sick and he is unsure
what is wrong with her, he puts himself and his job before her. When he is
trying to get Abigail to tell the truth he says “I pray you feel the weight of
truth upon you, for now my ministry’s at stake, my ministry and perhaps your
cousin’s life.” (Act I.) In that quote, he throws in the part about Betty at
the end like it has no importance compared to the fact that his “ministry’s
at stake.” Earlier he says to Abigail “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.” Then he continues “Abigail, do you understand that I have many
enemies?”(Act I.) Throughout Act One, Parris makes it obvious that the”faction that is sworn to drive me from my pulpit” is the only thing he can
think of and is more important then anything else at that time. This is the
opposite of what most people would expect from someone titled “Reverend”.
Besides putting himself before his daughter, Parris also puts himself before the
community. In Act One, he complains about his salary and the house. Proctor says
that he is the first minister to “demand the deed to this house.” When
Parris doesn’t get his way he tries to make them feel guilty by saying things
like the church will burn in Hell for not being obedient. In Act Four, after he
had wanted the hangings, he makes up excuses not to hang them. He says if Mr.
Hale gets any of them to confess then it “surely damns the others in the
public eye, and non may doubt they are all linked to Hell.” Then he says there
was a dagger thrown at his door earlier in the night. “You cannot hang this
sort. There is danger for me. I dare not step outside at night!” Reverend
Parris lies throughout the story to the community. Right before the story
begins, Parris goes into the woods and discover Abigail, Tituba, and the rest of
the girls dancing around a fire, yelling out and practicing witchcraft. He even
saw somebody naked who ran off. Abigail tells him a false story that he knows is
not true because he witnessed it himself. Yet he tells Susana “There be no
unnatural causes here…Let him (the doctor) look to medicine and put out all
thoughts of unnatural causes here.” All that Parris can think of is that his”ministry is at stake.” He tells Putnam to “say nothing of witchcraft”
because it is unknown. Parris from then on denies the true story and only admits
that the girls were dancing. Later in the story when they are in court, Parris
continually yells out false statements such as “Proctor has come to overthrow
this court!” and “this is a clear attack upon the court” to try and save
himself. Parris lies continually and can always tell other people why they will
burn in hell, but he will probably be right there with them when they do.
Reverend Parris displays hypocrisy by going against the church and his morals.
He lied and put himself and his job before the community throughout the play.