Rebecca Nurse represents a staunch pillar of reason and sense amid the frenzy that engulfs Salem, Massachusetts. She is dedicated to doing the right thing emanating a sense of ideal goodness. For this reason, she is highly revered and holds a position of honor in Salem’s community. Even reverend Hale is aware of her goodness. He informs her that he is aware of her great charitable acts in Beverly.
Throughout the entire course of the play, Rebecca constantly exhibits her good reasoning and sense. At the onset of the play, when Ruth and Betty fall ill, the entire village is now suspected of witchcraft. However, Rebecca nurse remains a voice of reason. She does not blindly believe in Betty’s story on being spellbound by a supernatural curse. She views the situation for what it is, i.e., a young girl playing tricks on the community. Rebecca specifically states that Betty will wake up when she grows tired of the acting. When Ruth declines to eat, Rebecca asserts that the girls are in their typical “silly seasons. She then advises the adults to pray and be patient so that the frenzy is not blown out of proportion.
Rebeca also shows a high level of sensibility in terms of summoning Reverend Mr. Hale, who is referred to as an “expert” on witchcraft. She thinks that Hale should be sent back to Beverly as soon as he arrives. Rebeca feels that his presence will lead to more chaos, yet the citizens of Salem hoped to have a peaceful year away from all the typical wrangles. The moment Hale arrives and suggest the ripping and tearing in order to free Betty from Satan’s captivity, Rebecca Stands up to exit the room. She claims she is too old for that nonsense and laments that if only people could realize that they are too mature for such silly acts, there would be harmony in Salem.
Unfortunately, as is typically the case with genuinely admirable personalities, those surrounding Rebecca subsequently succumb to envy and resentment. This eventually transcends into malice. The storyline of the play provides the reader with some history about the town that might have contributed to this resentment. It appears that the Putnam were perpetually at loggerheads with the Nurses over land boundaries. They also never came to consensus on the person to be elected as a minister. The Putnam family’s candidate lost. Since the Nurse family held such a plum social standing in Salem, it must have been difficult to hold something against them. This thoroughly aggravated the Putnam family.
Furthermore, Madam Putnam seems to have a personal vendetta with Rebecca. Madam Putnam had earlier on lost all her seven infants the day each of them was born. Meanwhile, Rebecca is a mother to 11 children, all alive in addition to 26 grandchildren. This is not Rebecca’s doing, but Madam Putnam blames her misfortunes on witchcraft. During that time in history, infant mortality was extremely high, making her experiences not typical, though very painful. However, Mrs. Putnam allowed her pain to turn into resentment for Rebecca.