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SUSANNA, craning around Parris to get a look at Betty: He [the doctor] bid me come and tell you, reverend sir, that he cannot discover no medicine for it in his books.
PARRIS: Then he must search on.
SUSANNA: Aye, sir, he have been searchin’ his books since he left you, sir. But he bid me tell you, that you might look to unnatural things for the cause of it.
PARRIS, his eyes going wide: No – no. There be no unnatural case here. Tell him I have sent for Reverend Hale of Beverly, and Mr. Hale will surely confirm that. let him look to medicine and put out all thought of unnatural causes here. There be none. (I.31-34)

The doctor is the first to indicate that Betty’s illness might be supernatural (that is, demonic) in origin. Too bad he didn’t think to stick Betty with a pin. She probably would have woken up instantly! Reverend Parris reacts with understandable panic to the idea of supernatural powers unleashing themselves, but later he is one of the greatest proponents of this view. What causes this turnabout?

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