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In The Crucible, what evidence is there of landlust?  

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babyricanshawty | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted January 8, 2012 at 8:53 AM via web

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In The Crucible, what evidence is there of landlust?

 

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mrs-campbell | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 18, 2013 at 8:03 PM (Answer #1)

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In The Crucible, there were many reasons why people were accused of witchcraft; landlust was just one of them.  The best character to look at for an example of landlust is Thomas Putnam.  Arthur Miller gives a bit of background to Putnam in his explanatory inserts in the play; from Miller, we learn that Putnam was involved in a "land war" with the Nurse family.  Additionally, he made an

"attempt to break his father's will, which left a disproportionate amount to a stepbrother."  

So, Arthur Miller gives us those little tidbits to let us know that Putnam had serious issues when it came to how much land he had.

For direct evidence from the characters themselves, look in Act One.  Putnam starts arguing with Proctor and Corey about land, and we see some of his landlust rise to the surface.  He accuses Proctor of getting firewood off his his land:  "That tract is in my bounds, it's in my bounds, Mr. Proctor!"  He argues with Giles Corey and John Proctor about that for a while, even threatening to harm them if they touch lumber on his land.

It is later that the extent of his landlust becomes evident.  George Jacobs is accused of witchcraft by Thomas' daughter, Ruth, and jailed; if hanged for witchcraft, a person's land went up for sale.  A member of the town

"heard Putnam say...the day his daughter cried out on Jacobs, he said she'd given him a fair gift of land."  

At that time, Thomas was one of the wealthier members of the town, and "none but Putnam [had] the coin to buy so great a piece" of land.

If you take the witness at his word, we have evidence that Thomas Putnam was pleased about--and possibly even behind--the accusation of his neighbor, Jacobs, because he wanted the man's land.  His landlust had prompted Thomas Putnam, to, as Giles Corey put it, "kill his neighbors for their land."  This perhaps the most stark example of landlust in The Crucible.

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