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Martha Corey is accused of witchcraft based upon the fact that her husband said she read books (strange books)...... something women didn't often do at the time. Her husband cannot recant his testimony and has to live with the responsibility of his wife's execution.
Rebecca Nurse is accused of witchcraft and executed.
Both of these women were well loved in their communities, and accused on bogus charges. I believe Hawthorne specifically wanted us to remember that these women died because of lies, and that hysteria can lead people to execute even the best of people.