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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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13. Reverend Parris had a lot to do with the contention that was
already boiling in Salem before the witchcraft started. He
thought of himself as the innocent victim of a conspiracy to oust
him from his pulpit. There had been considerable wrangling
over his election in the first place, and bitterness still hung in the
air between the rival factions. The group that had not wanted
Parris had gone to another church, and the ones who stayed
insisted on keeping his salary low. Parris used his pulpit to
harangue his enemies and bully his supporters into giving him
such things as money for firewood and a deed of ownership to
his house. John Proctor complained that Parris ranted and raved
until he got golden candlesticks on the altar in the church, and
that he had no qualms about damning to hell anyone who
disagreed with him.

When the witchcraft first broke out, Parris was terrified that his
enemies would ruin him with it, because his daughter Betty was
the first to be afflicted. He soon found, however, that by siding
with the witch-hunters, he could even the score on some old
grievances.

14. Arthur Miller doesn't really say whether he believes in
witchcraft or not. But he does take great pains to give a rational
explanation for everything the Salemites say is witchcraft.
Tituba's "confession" of witchcraft is her only way out of an
impossible situation: everyone already believes she is a witch,
so she has no choice, if she doesn't want to hang, but to
"confess."



Even Abigail, who so ruthlessly manipulates the madness for
her own ends, starts off in much the same way. She's in trouble,
and sees confessing as a way to get out of being whipped or
worse. The other girls' "torments" can be explained as a case of
mass hysteria-as soon as one "catches it" it quickly spreads to
the others. We also see how easily they can slip in and out of
these torments once they get the hang of it.

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The Crucible by Arthur Miller - Barron's Booknotes
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