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ABIGAIL: She heard you singin' and suddenly she's up and screamin'.
MRS. PUTNAM: The psalm! The psalm! She cannot bear to hear the Lord's name!
PARRIS: No, God forbid. Mercy, run to the doctor! Tell him what’s happened here! Mercy Lewis rushes out.
MRS. PUTNAM: Mark it for a sign, mark it!
Rebecca Nurse, seventy-two, enters. She is white-haired, leaning upon her walking-stick.
PUTNAM, pointing at the whimpering Betty: That is a notorious sign of witchcraft afoot, Goody Nurse, a prodigious sign!
MRS. PUTNAM: My mother told me that! When they cannot bear to hear the name of –
PARRIS, trembling: Rebecca, Rebecca, go to her, we're lost. She suddenly cannot bear to hear the Lord's name!
Everything is quiet. Rebecca walks across the room to the bed. Gentleness exudes from her. Betty is quietly whimpering, eyes shut. Rebecca simply stands over the child, who gradually quiets.
Mrs. Putnam, astonished: What have you done? (I.213-220; 225-226)
Betty’s sudden whining at the name of Jesus indicates her relationship with the Devil – a classic sign of good vs. evil. But Rebecca Nurse suggests she just needs a mother’s touch. The more earnestly religious characters, like Rebecca, realize that supernatural conflict has its roots in human suffering, not the other way around.
PROCTOR: Can you speak one minute without we land in Hell again? I am sick of Hell!
PARRIS: It is not for you to say what is good for you to hear!
PROCTOR: I may speak my heart, I think!
PARRIS -now he's out with it: There is a party in this church. I am not blind; there is a faction and a party.
PROCTOR: Against you?
PUTNAM: Against him and all authority!
PROCTOR: Why, then I must find it and join it.
There is shock among the others.
REBECCA: He does not mean that.
PUTNAM: He confessed it now!
PROCTOR: I mean it solemnly, Rebecca; I like not the smell of this "authority. "
REBECCA: No, you cannot break charity with your minister. You are another kind, John. Clasp his hand, make your peace.
PROCTOR: I have a crop to sow and lumber to drag home. (I.275-277;278-289)
Parris tries to assert his religious authority over Proctor, but Proctor is uninterested in the minister’s message. Parris suggests that there is a battle going on, a battle of good vs. evil, and that Proctor is on the wrong side. In fact, the battle is more political than religious, with Parris trying to keep a tight grip on his flock.
HALE: Tituba. You must have no fear to tell us who they are, do you understand? We will protect you. The Devil can never overcome a minister. You know that, do you not?
TITUBA, kisses Hale's hand: Aye, sir, oh, I do.
Hale: You have confessed yourself to witchcraft, and that speaks a wish to come to Heaven's side. And we will bless you, Tituba.
TITUBA, deeply relieved: Oh, God bless you, Mr. Hale!
HALE, with rising exaltation: You are God's instrument put in our hands to discover the Devil's agents among us. So speak utterly, Tituba, and God will protect you.
TITUBA, joining with him: Oh, God, protect Tituba! (I.456-469)
In a world where evil is certain, and the faith that God works through ministers is absolute – it is difficult to imagine Tituba making any other choice. The ministers have the power of government behind them. Also, Tituba does not have as much of a stake in the health of the community. As a slave, she has been granted none of its privileges.