How do the Putnams show intolerance towards Rebecca Nurse?

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

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The most evident display of disrespect towards Rebecca Nurse comes in the fact that she becomes the source of their own envy.  This is especially so with Ann Putnam.  Her "twisted soul" cannot comprehend the death of her own children and displaces this lack of understanding on Rebecca's own abundance of children.  Her envy is what causes her to lash out at Rebecca and feed into the hysteria that causes Rebecca's accusation and execution.  At the same time, Miller makes very clear that there was a history of antagonism between both families.  Prior to Parris taking his position, it was vacant and there was a choice between a priest supported by the Putnams and one supported by the Nurse family.  The one supported by the Nurses received the position over the Putnams, a sore point endured.  This helps to further example the antagonism between both families. It really serves to explain why the Nurse family is mistreated at the hands of the Putnams.  The desire to appropriate people in accordance to their own subjectivity regardless of the cost is what drives the Putnam dislike and intolerance of the Nurse family and Rebecca Nurse, in particular.

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