Articulate the purpose of Mrs. Putnam's characterization.

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

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I feel that Miller's characterization of Mrs. Putnam is representative of the bitterness that can be used by those in the position of power to create divisions within a social and political realm.  Mrs. Putnam has no political axe to grind other than her bitterness, something that is brought out by both stage directions and dialogue in the first scene of the first act.  Mrs. Putnam is embittered because of the death of her previous children, something that she believes is fodder for public gossip and an element for which she cannot find answers.  She is driven to account for why this has happened, something that everyone but her realizes cannot be provided.  At the same time, the bitterness that the Putnams feel that their own choice for minister was discarded is evident.  Mrs. Putnam's bitterness and anger is what compels her to embrace the accusations of witchcraft.  They serve as an attempt to "normalize" that which is abnormal to her, a way in which her bitterness and resentment can be socially and politically channeled to her own benefit and to mask the truth that lies at the center of her being in that there can be no answers for the reasoning behind misfortune.  Rather than accept the complexity of this reality, Mrs. Putnam is satisfied with demonizing and targeting others out of her own sense of spite and bitterness.  Miller's purpose in characterizing her in this manner is to reflect how there political exploitation of individual bitterness lies at some of the heart of social action and manipulation on the part of those in the position of power.


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