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After Parris begins to believe his daughter to be afflicted by witchcraft, what is...

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dianags13 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 25, 2011 at 3:30 PM via web

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After Parris begins to believe his daughter to be afflicted by witchcraft, what is Thomas Putnam's advice to him?

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

Posted September 25, 2011 at 6:32 PM (Answer #1)

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Parris is uncertain of what to do in the opening act.  He is afraid of making a public issue of witchcraft, believing that he will be implicated in it.  His lack of resolve reflects his own sense of insecurity that is a permanent part of his character, something that reflects his own lack of firmness in his own sense of identity.  Putnam recognizes that there is a certain opportunity in this moment.  Along with Goody Putnam and Abigail, he is able to convince Parris that he must address the people gathered downstairs and denounce the devil and witchcraft.  Putnam believes that Parris must do this for a couple of reasons.  The first would be that it would put the downstairs group at ease, knowing that the devil is the cause of the girls' affliction.  At the same time, being able to publicly raise the presence of the devil would be able to defer any potential blame to both Parris' daughter and Putnam's own, who is in a trance- like state similar to Betty Parris.  From the most ulterior of motives, Putnam believes that the more accusations and people accused of witchcraft will enable him to be consolidate his landowning status in Salem, something that Miller tells us is important as the land charter had been revoked in Salem.  This insight comes out of the Act I stage directions.

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