What troubles Reverend Hale about Rebecca Nurse's death?

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

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One reality that troubles Reverend Hale about Rebecca Nurse's death is because he knows her to be a "good" soul.  Hale arrives in Salem uncertain of who is operating under what motivation.  He is the "outsider" to Salem.  The only truth he knows is that Rebecca Nurse is a good woman.  He confirms this when he first is introduced to her:  "It’s strange how I knew you, but I suppose you look as such a good soul should. We have all heard of your great charities in Beverly."  Hale is troubled in how easily Rebecca Nurse is accused of witchcraft and sentenced to death.  Hale comes to recognize that the legal machinery of Salem is flawed.  This legal machinery is sentencing people to death without just cause or evidence.  

Rebecca Nurse's good character and facing the punishment she does troubles Hale. It troubles Hale because he recognizes that he cannot support the institutional make up of Salem, one that uses the law as a way to settle personal grievances.  What Rebecca Nurse is made to face troubles Hale.  In the process, it brings out how Hale is trapped between needing to speak out against that which is wrong and being a part of the institution that is meant to "punish wrong."  It is in this element where Hale is troubled regarding Rebecca Nurse's death.

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