In The Crucible, why would anyone resent the Nurses?

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In act one, Rebecca Nurse arrives at Reverend Parris's home to check up on Betty, and Arthur Miller notes several significant reasons that some members of Salem's community resent her family. Despite their positive reputation and influence in Salem's community, Miller mentions that some community members resented Francis Nurse's ability to climb the social ladder and attain wealth. Francis had originally rented the land he now owns and gradually purchased the property until he became a prominent landowner. Another explanation for why certain members of Salem's community resented Francis Nurse was his constant land wars with his neighbors, primarily Thomas Putnam. The Nurse clan had also been part of the faction that prevented James Bayley from being elected as Salem's spiritual leader, which is another motivating factor for Thomas Putnam's campaign against Rebecca. The Nurse family also allied with other connecting farms and established Tops-field by breaking away from Salem's town authority, which was something the older citizens also resented.

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pohnpei397 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To get an answer to this question, look at the narration that Miller places in Act I, Scene 2 after Rebecca Nurse enters the room.  This will give you Miller's assumptions about why people resent the family.

The first major reason people might dislike the Nurses is because they have a lot of land.  There have been disputes over some of the land.  In addition, Francis Nurse used to be poor and is now pretty rich.  There may be resentment over that.

The other major thing going on is political.  The Nurses and the Putnam family were on opposite sides of a dispute over who should be the new minister in Salem.

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arby | Student

pohnpei is right, but there's more, at least as far as Ann Putnam is concerned.  She's a woman who has lost, what, seven children?  That'll drive any woman crazy, and to make her suffering worse, Rebecca Nurse has never lost any child or grandchild.  Ann is horribly, horribly jealous of that, and when Rebecca condescends to tell her how to raise her one surviving child in Act I, that just twists the dagger.

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