Religion is woven into the everyday life of the Salem of the play. Its exclusive form of Christianity centered on a set of clearly defined rules: you went to church every Sunday, you didn’t work on the Sabbath, you believed the Gospel, you respected the minister’s word like it was God’s, and so on. For people accused of witchcraft, any deviation from these rules in the past can be used as evidence for much greater sins in the present. But ultimately, even good and respected and highly religious women like Rebecca Nurse are accused and put to death, so past respectability and religiosity doesn’t necessarily protect one.
Questions About Religion
- How would you characterize the play’s attitude toward organized religion? Does Miller see all forms of religion as corrupt, or only the particular form embodied by men like Rev. Parris?
- How do the religious beliefs of certain characters help them survive or at least cope with difficult situations?
Chew on This
Rebecca Nurse is the character in the play who best embodies a positive form of religiosity.