What is Rebecca's role in act 1 in The Crucible?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Rebecca's fundamental role in the first act is one to be a voice of reason in a setting of intense madness and self- centered manipulation.  Rebecca's character and reputation are immaculate and she is the first one to say that what the girls are doing is nothing more than kids being kids.  She is also quick to point out that people who claim the presence of the devil without any sort of substantiation are actually doing the work of the devil.  It is here where I think that Rebecca's role is best seen.  She is speaking from a perspective of understanding and compassion, something that is noticeably absent from Salem.  Her role is to demonstrate that there is some goodness in Salem, amidst the personal politicking, the loss of compassion, and the excessive role of ego.  She is at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Putnams and the Parris' figures of Salem.  She also represents a formidable opponent to these individuals as their desire for power and need to appropriate the world in accordance to their own subjectivity rises.  She is the foil to such tendencies.  In  the process, Rebecca also represents the idea that the fate of goodness in Salem is going to have to be fought for in order to be preserved.

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