The Role Of Betty Parris In The Salem Witch Trials

923 Words4 Pages
In 1692 Salem Massachusetts, social power and status was dominated by male figures that could prove and constantly defend their strict moral purity. Power came from reputation, and reputation was defined in the eyes of God. Woman on the other hand held virtually no social power until marriage, and even then were considered voiceless in the social hierarchy. Girls held the least power in the social order, representing a financial burden to their families that needed to be repaid in the role of servant. Betty Parris, however defies this social order. As merely a ten year old girl, she single-handedly turns the power of her voiceless status to her own personal advantage. Knowing that she had no moral defence for being caught dancing in the woods, and being fully aware of the power of reputation in her town, she pretends to act sick, falling into a unconscious state. Although Puritan children, especially girls, were raised to be submissive and demure, having virtually no social power, Betty Parris defies this stereotype by not only using her power to spark hysteria and the resulting witchcraft trials, but also to gain a grip over numerous previously powerful characters with just her silence. Betty Parris’s considerable power throughout the first act is observed by her ability to single-handedly initiate chaos and hysteria within the town for her own personal benefit. This power is first witnessed following Susanna Walcott’s explanation concerning the possibility of a
Open Document