Rebecca Nurse: Fact vs. Fiction

Just as a feud with a neighbor seems trivial to those not involved but Of intense frustration to the embroiled , the trials braver not silly and insignificant. The trials were more about personal issues between rivals than witchcraft itself. The witchcraft was a weapon for Calamities to obtain revenge on their enemies. A tool Miller uses to show the reader this emotion is Rebecca Nurse, seventy. Year-old grandmother, wife, and respected member of Salem society, Miller modifies her character in his play, Some facts remain true in the play, others are altered, and some have been neglected altogether. What did he change, and what did he regret to?

Why did Miller take such liberties with Rebecca character in his play? Nurse and her husband, Francis, were both well-respected people in the town of Salem Miller describes. They owned about three hundred acres, and after a land dispute with the Putnam, they broke away from Salem and founded Deposited. Miller mentions that the founding of Deposited upset the old Saltiness, This is true – aberration was resented in puritan society. The essence of Puritanism is in the intensity of the Puritan’s commitment to a morality, a form of worship, and a civil society strictly conforming to God’s commandments

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Certain Puritans ever “saved” despite their sins, while the remainder of society led lives strictly following the saved clergy’s interpretations of God’s will. Sale’s minister, Mr.. Samuel Paris, avgas God’s man, as unfit for this title as he may have been. Like Proctor, Rebecca and her husband no longer hungered for religion when Paris became their minister. Their disgust for Mr.. Paris cut down on their church appearances. In a judgmental, religious town as Salem was, even an unpleasant minister was no excuse to avoid church. A few Calamities resented the Nurses for their rise in social status as their lands stretched through town.

Miller gives these four pieces of background information for their persecution in his play. How accurate were they? Sources show that Rebecca and Francis were in fact greatly loved and admired by most When Rebecca was first accused, over forty friends and neighbors signed a petition condemning her “exemplary character,” This is fairly accurate in the play, as the petition Proctor used as evidence for his friend’s wives defense held ninety-one signatures tort Rebecca and Martha Corey as well, Sources show many were shocked when Rebecca was accused, as the Proctors were in scene two, and were turned trot the court.

As or the issue with the Putnam, there was speculation that it may have been a test for the family. If they could bring down such a highly respected, deeply religious, pious pillar of the community, then surely they’d have absolute freedom over those they’d bring charges against in the future. Miller describes the distaste the Nurses had for Paris correctly. Both were members of the church, and Francis was the leader of the anti-Paris committee. Putnam led the pro-Paris committee, the latter another reason why the two families were at odds.

The committee is briefly mentioned in the play: “Paris- now he’s out with t: There sis party in this church. Am not blind; there sis party and a faction. ” The information Miller provides on Rebecca and her husband in The Crucible is shortened, but almost entirely accurate. Miller’s depiction of Rebecca in The Crucible is limited. He touches only upon the events relevant to his story. However, Rebecca life is a story in itself. Rebecca was not born in New England, she moved there in 1640 with her family . She married Francis Nurse when she was adventure. Here years old, in 1645. Francis was a tray maker who rented a great deal of land, and steadily ought it all as he profited from his business. Many years passed before the infamous witch-hunts, Rebecca was an active member of Salem society, regularly attending church and keeping herself occupied with volunteering in town and her eight children. Aside from her disputes with the Putnam family and Paris, she had earned a virtuous name for herself by 1692, the year the Salem trials began, She 71 years old when Edward and Thomas Putnam filed the first complaint against her.

She was shocked, and said: “l am innocent as the child unborn, but surely, what sin hath God found out in me unrepeated of that He would lay such an affliction on me in my old age. ” A warrant for her arrest was issued after the Putnam complaint, and Rebecca was sent to court, where she was found guilty after the hysterical girls claimed she sent her spirit out to choke them. Examinations followed her arrest, in which local women claimed there was a “mark of the devil” upon her skin.

Rebecca was excommunicated, and on July 19th, 1692, she and four Other women were driven in a cart to Gallows Hill, where they were hanged for refusing to confess to witchcraft She was buried hastily in a shallow grave, her hand above the earth. Her husband and her children pulled her from her common grave and buried her at their home. Shortly after her death, Rebecca sister, Mary Estes, was hanged. Miller touches upon a few of these events in The Crucible, enough to develop Rebecca as a saintly minor character who draws pity from the audience. Is opening notes, Miller informs the reader that the play was written more to convey the general fear a witch-hunt instills in members of a society than to tell the history of the Salem witch trials, It is for this reason that Miller did not include the vast wealth of information on Rebecca elite- such an account s for history books, not plays meant to entertain as well as prove a point. He wrote to Rebecca to produce a character the audience can feel sympathy for.

Her overall air is kindly- her tolerance for Sale’s inhabitants even during the witch- hunt, her love for her husband, even her description of children warms the heart: “A child’s spirit is like a child, you can never catch it by running after it; you must stand still, and, for love, it will soon itself come back. ” Her death is the nadir of the integrity of the courts; the murder of an innocent woman based on hearsay and slander. The audience cannot help but feel helpless rage for her. Miller wanted just this- he wanted to show audiences what a witch-hunt is, Rebecca character is also a reflection of Millers own views.

She held fast even no one else would, refused to back down and confess lies. Miller refused to take part in the witch-hunts. When asked to change the antagonists in a screenplay to communists, he refused, and became a suspected spy _ The actual facts Miller did use about Rebecca in The Crucible heightened its credibility by adding a sense Of genuineness. While making the audience feel for Rebecca, the innocent victim of accusation, with heartfelt dialogue he created himself, Miller utilized the most elevate facts he researched to add authenticity. Entitle victim of witch hysteria, Rebecca Nurse draws more emotional reactions to the play than any other character. The audience watches in compassion as the amiable woman they have grown attached to refuses to confess a sin she has not committed and ultimately gives her life for it. Miller set out to tell audiences a story that would show them the fear of a witch-hunt, The partiality they acquire for Rebecca Nurse provides a personal view of this horror. Through combining historical accuracy with his own touch, Miller was effective in his portrayal of this kind-hearted martyr.


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