Community vs. Individual Will
In Salem, the community is a God-fearing one, and anyone who is perceived to be neglecting his religious duties is harshly viewed by others. John Proctor rarely goes to church, stating that Reverend Parris' sermons are all “hellfire and bloody damnations." Proctor also regularly plows on Sundays, which is forbidden in the town.
John Proctor is a prime example of a character whose individual will clashes with the expectations of the community. By choosing to avoid church, he risks losing the respect of his townsfolk.
Reverend Parris, the Minister of Salem, is not one of the best-liked people in the town. While his focus should be on the community as a whole, he seems far more interested in maintaining his personal reputation.
In the opening scene, Parris prays and sobs as his daughter Betty has been taken over by some kind of illness. He believes that witchcraft is at the root of it because he has seen his niece Abigail Williams and her friends performing a ritual in the woods in Betty's presence. Although he is sure that supernatural powers have gripped his child, it is his desperation to keep his place as Minister that forces him to call Reverend Hale to look at her.
When John Proctor asks Parris if he has spoken to other community members about Hale's arrival, he insinuates that Parris' motive might not have be in the best interests of everyone. If the truth about his niece's exploits are revealed to the townsfolk, Parris knows it will be the end of him. What Parris wants even more than the good health of his child is to continue to use his position for his own gain, rather than to help the entire town.