How are Parris and Abigail presented in Act 1 (Scene 1)?
The scene opens with the character of Reverend Parris “kneeling beside the bed” on which his daughter Betty lies in what seems a state of unconsciousness, after being discovered to have been “dancing like heathen” in the virgin forest. Parris “seems about to weep” for what the audience believes is for his daughters condition however we later discover that his concern lies predominantly with what the villagers will think of him. “And what shall I say to them?” He questions what he must tell the townspeople of Betty’s condition, revealing his fixation for his reputation in the village as he desperate to find a medical cause and “his eyes go wide” at the slightest hint or suggestion of an unnatural cause. Not only does he fear his position being compromised but it is as if he feels a sense of injustice that this has happened to his daughter, since he believes himself a man of piety and righteousness. “A sense of confusion hangs about him” as a he “mumbles”, his agitated almost angry behaviour suggests that not only does he fear his position being compromised but it is as if he feels a sense of injustice that this has happened to his daughter, since he believes himself a man of piety and righteousness. Perhaps his anger and frustration stems from the fact that he cannot come to terms with the fact that his daughter may have been consorting with the devil and challenged his authority, as well as dancing in the forest which breaches the rule of not acting for “vain enjoyment”. Miller presents Parris as a power hungry and superficially pious man for he acts upon what he think will gain him popularity among the villagers to maintain his reputation and acts out of fear of losing his position rather than for the health of his own daughter. During Parris’s panic and stir we are introduced to his niece Abigail William, a “strikingly beautiful girl” aged seventeen. As she enters the seen she is “all...
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