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Compare And Contrast Of Parris And Hale In &Quot;The Crucible&Quot;

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Category: English

Autor: anton 12 April 2011

Words: 852 | Pages: 4

Samuel Parris and John Hale are the two ministers in The Crucible and were initially alike in their attitudes towards witchcraft. However, their personalities show some striking dissimilarities. Unlike Hale, Reverend Parris is characterized by extreme paranoia and egotism. He is very static- his traits and motives remain consistent from the beginning to the end of the play. Although a religious man and believer in witchcraft like Parris, Hale values human life and is motivated by personal beliefs and his sense of morality, disregarding his best interests. He is a very dynamic character, becoming progressively less confident and trusting of law and doctrine as his faith is tested throughout the ordeal.

Parris is dogmatic, intolerant of opposition, and overly suspicious of those that he does not like. His desire to persecute his rivals sets the hysteria in Salem into motion. Parris only does things to further his purposes and he only thinks of the effects that any given circumstance will have on him. When his daughter Betty is unresponsive in the beginning of the play, Parris is more concerned about what the neighbors will think if it turns out that Betty was practicing witchcraft than he is with her condition. He fears that if it appears that he cannot control his household, the townspeople will not trust him with the entire village. As soon as the court comes into power Parris begins to set the court against his assumed enemies, including John Proctor, Francis Nurse, and Giles Corey. When Francis Nurse presented a signed petition in favor of his wife to the court, it was Parris’s idea to arrest those who signed the petition. Parris supports the court when it remains in power and can aid him, but as soon as the town began to turn against it, Parris is the first to look for a way out.

As stated above, although he is a religious man, Parris only uses religion and his position to further his own purposes. This and the minister's materialism and egotism in a supposedly spiritually pure society are all shown in his continuous preaching for golden candlesticks, his claim that in addition to his salary he is supposed to receive money to pay for his firewood, and his demand for the deed to his house. Parris’s greed comes from his belief that he is better than the townspeople since he is a Harvard graduate. Moreover, Parris believes that the townspeople do not respect his position as minister, and are plotting against him. His attitude toward others is also relative to their power. He is rude and insulting to those below him, like Tituba, yet reveres those in power, such as Putnam and Danforth.

When the play begins John Hale is much like Reverend Parris- he is naпve and controlled by the dogmas of the church, but unlike Parris, he truly believes that what he is doing is right while Parris’s intentions were never pure. When he first enters the play, he is the force behind the witch trials- probing for confessions and encouraging people to testify. As the play continues, however, he experiences a transformation, making him one of the most dynamic characters in the play. He begins to empathize and has independent revelations regarding the nature of the trials after listening to John Proctor and Mary Warren.

At this point, he becomes convinced that the accused are truthful, and his approach towards Abigail is one of increasing suspicion. Although Hale attempts to prove that Proctor is telling the truth, the trials are no longer in his hands, but rather in those of Danforth, who has no interest in seeing its proceedings exposed as a fraud. Hale’s failure to right the wrongs that he instigated deplete his faith and completely crush him. By the end of the play he has lost all his faith: he begs the accused to lie and confess to save themselves even though it goes against all of his previous values, as depicted when he exclaims that he has "…come to do the Devil's work. I come to counsel Christians they should belie themselves. There is blood on my head! Can you not see the blood on my head!!"

Although Hale recognizes the proceedings are a sham he gives in to the court by asking the accused to confess as opposed to being noble and sticking to his beliefs. This action of asking the accused to lie also shows that he is self-motivated, like Parris, since it is to save his own conscious because he setting the trials into motion and thus indirectly sentenced them to death.

Samuel Parris and John Hale were both men of God, but by the end of the trials their views of witches, faith, and man were completely different. Although neither of the men were completely honorable, Hale expressed a deep value of human life and acted on what he believed to be right, unlike Parris who acted on revenge and paranoia. Both ministers helped to set the trials into motion, but not only were their motives different, their ultimate opinion of the trials themselves were as well.

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