Uploaded by Sumer Nasim Khan

Character Analysis of Parris from The Crucible

Sumer Khan
Mrs. Benestante
18th March, 2018
Parris’s Character Development
Parris’ character is very dynamic in the play ’The Crucible’ . His personality and
situational control notably fluctuates throughout the course of the play. Arthur Miller makes a
considerable effort in order to make sure that the reader notices this fluctuation because it is vital
for all the characters to react to the situations in the play as well as have these situations impact
their personalities.
Reverend Parris is one of the first characters that we are introduced to, in the Crucible.
He is weeping for his daughter, Betty, while also telling off his niece Abigail. These actions of his
show us that Parris is in fact in power and that although he is distressed beyond words he will continue to
hold on to this control, as shown in this quote, “ Reverend Parris is praying now, and, though we cannot
hear his words, a sense of his confusion hangs about him. He mumbles, then seems about to weep; then
he weeps…. Parris: Then why can she not move herself since midnight? This child is desperate!” (Pages
8-9). During this act we are also introduced to Parris’ most overpowering trait that is his strength and
ability to control those around him because of it. As the act goes on we notice Parris struggling to the
situation after John Hale’s arrival in Salem as seen here, “Hale, kindly: Who came to you with the
Devil?.... Parris, pressing in on her: Who? Who?”(Page 24). It is clearly visible that every time John Hale
says something, Proctor repeats so that the other villagers see that Proctor is the one who is receiving the
response and not John Hale. Although we do not see it in this act the villagers did notice the slight
loosening of Parris’ power and this leads to his downfall.
After his short disappearance, Parris returns in Act three, and he is fearful. Parris is fearful for his
name in the village, he is fearful of getting accused for the trouble that his daughter and niece have
caused, and most of all he is fearful of his money getting taken away. So, in order to prevent the truth
from coming out he tries to fill Judge Danforth’s ear with words against John Proctor, as seen in this
quote; “Parris: Beware this man, Your Excellency, this man is mischief.” (Page 40). After Proctor says
that he has arrived at court to put an end to the witchcraft blasphemy, Parris begins to get very frantic and
yells out that Proctor’s goal is to overthrow the court. Parris knows that this statement is not true,
however, he does not care about the ramifications this statement might have on Proctor, as long as it
means that his name will not be soured. Throughout the entirety of Proctor and Mary Warren’s accusation
Parris continues to make remarks of this sort, “Do you read the gospel, Mr. Proctor, Your good opinion!”
(Page 42). This remarks directly show Parris’ fear start to leak out; he starts questioning Proctor’s
character in front of the court in order to make Proctor’s statements less credible.
As quickly as Parris’ power is introduced, it disappears in the final act. As soon as Parris appears
on the stage we notice the shift in his demeanor. A man who once strode proudly through the village is
now shuffling around “gaunt, frightened, and sweating” (Page 76) as Arthur Miller so forwardly chose to
phrase it. This odd behavior that Parris exhibits makes it apparent that a significant event must have taken
place that had provoked Parris’s character into making such a 360 degree turn. Not long into the act we
understand that the instigation of this change had been caused by Abigail and Mercy, who had stolen all
of Parris’s money and had run away. This leads us to believe that Parris had believed that his power lay in
his money and now that he had lost it all he begins to act weak and submissive. This isn’t the first
situation in which we see Parris’s shallow nature, in fact, Arthur Miller hints at it multiple times
throughout the play. For example, in act two when Proctor states that “Parris came, and for twenty week
he preach nothin’ but golden candlesticks until he had them” (Page 17) and this is one of many times that
Parris’s true character shone through. Parris’s character flaw had remained consistent throughout the play
and therefore made it a very smooth and understandable transition into Parris ‘downfall’.
Throughout the play Parris’s character showed an absurd amount of fluctuation control and power
wise. In act one we are introduced to strong and powerful man, Parris, and by act four he is but a weak
and submissive character. Arthur Miller displayed Parris’s character traits obviously enough so that we
were able to understand the cause and effects that the situations have on Parris.
Film Versus Play
Not many films do justice to the plays that they were based upon and I believe that as difficult a
task that it is, the director of the Crucible managed to succeed in creating an up to par version of the play,
perhaps even Arthur Miller would have been proud.
Right from the beginning Nicholas Hytner makes very effective cinematic choices that really
added to the overall appeal of the film. An example of this ‘addition’ is the forest scene, although it was
never described in the play we were able to create the scene in our heads from the dialogue cues that we
got from their conversation. So the scene that was created helped give the film more context as well as
paved out a way for a smooth foreshadowing. Another scene that helped give the viewer receive a better
understanding of the film was the scene in which Parris whips a confession out of Tituba, while he didn’t
do so in the play. This cinematic decision really puts forth the concept that the confessions were getting
beat out of the accused. In the movie, Nicholas added a scene in which Abigail kisses John Proctor and he
pushes her off . This was done in order to show the audience that Abigail was still lusting over Proctor even
though he sincerely no longer wanted to take part in the affair.
Parris’s character is very well portrayed in the film, and although there are a few differences in
between the film and the play, they are for the better. One of the first scenes in the film shows us inside
Parris’s, which is dark and stuffy. This gives us an insight on the Parris’s character and how he is a man
with a lot of secrets. In the play, Parris seemed to be overly vain and shallow. In the movie he lives up to his
character but acts even more childish and annoying. This exaggeration accentuates Parris’s irritating
character flaws as well as gives us a lot of dimension as to why Parris ends up in the situation he does, and
how it affects his personality.
All in all the film is a very favorable reproduction of the Crucible play. The characters are
exaggerated and scenes were in order for everyone to understand and feel part of the scenarios that play out.