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Crucible Character Study: Rebecca Nurse

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She is the saintly character of the play. Whereas John Proctor has many flaws, Rebecca seems angelic. She is a nurturing soul, as seen when she tries to comfort the sick and the fearful during Act One. She is a grandmother who exhibits compassion throughout the play.

When convicted of witchcraft, she refuses to bear false witness against herself and others. She would rather hang than lie. She comforts John Proctor as they are both led to the gallows. “Let you fear nothing! Another judgment waits us all!”

Also, she utters one of the more subtle and realistic lines of the play. As the prisoners are led to the gallows, Rebecca stumbles. This provides a dramatically tender moment, when John Proctor catches her and helps her to her feet. She is a bit embarrassed and says, “I’ve had no breakfast.” This line is so unlike any of the turbulent speeches of the male characters, or the vehement replies of the younger female characters. Rebecca Nurse has much she could complain about. Anyone else in her situation would be consumed with fear, sorrow, confusion, and rage against the evils of society. Yet, Rebecca Nurse merely blames her faltering as a lack of breakfast. Even at the brink of execution, she exhibits not a trace of bitterness. Of all the characters from The Crucible, Rebecca Nurse is the most benevolent. Her death increases the tragedy of the play.

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