The Crucible Questions and Answers
by Arthur Miller

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What quotes show that Mrs. Putnam envies Rebecca Nurse in The Crucible?

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Mrs. Putnam’s jealousy of Rebecca Nurse stems from the fact that Mrs. Putnam has had many children die in childbirth, while Rebecca Nurse has had no problem bearing children. Ultimately, this leads to the accusation of Rebecca Nurse for witchcraft, for which she is sentenced and hanged. This conflict is laid out from the beginning, when Mrs. Putnam admits that she had sent her daughter, Betty, to Tituba to find out who killed her seven children, who all died in childbirth. Rebecca Nurse, on the other hand, reveals that she has “eleven children” and is “twenty-six times a grandma.” Mrs. Putnam cannot accept that God would be so kind to one person and cruel to another, so she blames her own children’s deaths on witchcraft rather than believing the more rational explanation that they died from natural causes. At first, she places the blame on Goody Osburne, who was midwife to three of those children. Later, though, because of her jealousy, Mrs. Putnam accuses Rebecca Nurse of witchcraft. Frances Nurse reveals this in Act II, when he says that Rebecca Nurse was charged “for the marvelous and supernatural murder of Goody Putnam’s babies.” Though Rebecca Nurse is one of the most respected women in Salem, Mrs. Putnam needs someone to blame, and because Rebecca Nurse has been so fruitful in bearing children, she is an easy target.

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