In The Crucible, assess the function of Rebecca Nurse in the play.
Rebecca Nurse functions as the very embodiment of virtue and goodness. John Proctor admires her for this. Even Reverend Hale enters Salem convinced of her goodness upon their first meeting. When there is controversy swirling around what happened to the girls, Rebecca Nurse is calm and collected as she suggests that nothing major is at play except children acting like children. In a social setting in which there is chaos and confusion in nearly every one of its sectors, Rebecca Nurse functions as a voice of reason. She has no political agenda, seeming to operate only as the nurturing force that has reared so many children.
When Rebecca Nurse is accused, it represents how the trials have repudiated any notion of social maintenance. Rebecca Nurse becomes a target of those in the position of power, or those who have access to power. At this point in the drama, her function is to represent how politics and power can subsume individuals who are devoid of such motivations. Despite everything around her and the amount she suffers as a result of her goodness and her sense of righteousness, Rebecca Nurse never changes. This becomes her primary function as she displays how goodness does not have to be dependent on the world around it. When Proctor wavers in his commitment and is about to sign the confession, the shame he experiences when he sees Rebecca Nurse is significant. He is ashamed because he views himself through her eyes, eyes that see only the best in the world. It is because of this sense of shame that he recants and demands to uphold his own sense of "goodness." Proctor's transformation and demand to uphold this sense of honor is in large part because he sees himself as not "worth the dust on the feet of them that hang." It is here in which Rebecca Nurse's function is most evident in the drama. She is the constant force of good, the moral star by which all other ethical calibration is to be set.