The Oh-So-Devout Puritan

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The Oh-So-Devout Puritan It is common belief among philosophers that the definition of anything that “exists” is relative to one’s perception of said thing. What exactly is the boundary between “good” and “bad” and, thus, “just” and “unjust”? For societal balance and structure, definitions of such abstract concepts must be fashioned, for the masses to hold as standards and use for comparison and judgment of one another. This theory is seen at full effect in regards to Reverend Parris, Danforth, and John Proctor in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible; Proctor’s disregard for Parris’ “divine” role as religious overlord of Salem, seen through his criticisms of Parris’ motives and behavior, and his own behavioral “failures” substantiate the claim of his being an “impious” Puritan in the eyes of a Puritanical society, which ultimately earns him unjust accusation and death at the hands of Danforth. To begin, how John Proctor voices his views on Reverend Parris’ legitimacy as a minister suffices to bring him on the path to accusation. For example, in Act I, he openly comments, “There are many others who stay away from church these days because he hardly ever mentions God any more” (1. 28-29). Proctor’s vehement protest against Parris’ authority begins here and builds to the point where he expresses strong desire, in the presence of Parris and others, to “find [the party against Parris] and join it” (1. 31) as he “like[s] not the smell of this ‘authority’” (1. 31). Here, he underscores one of his biggest objections to Parris’ leadership, the reverend’s inability to rule by praise of the Lord and his tendency to rule by fear of Hell; a minister’s influence in society should be more brightening than darkening. Furthermore, in regards to Parris’ leadership, John sees him as a person less concerned about spreading the word of goodness and God and more concerned about material

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