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Discuss the significance of why it isn't difficult for Ann Putman to believe that Goody...

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dinchince | Student, Grade 11 | eNotes Newbie

Posted September 9, 2012 at 10:39 PM via web

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Discuss the significance of why it isn't difficult for Ann Putman to believe that Goody Osburn is a witch.

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

Posted September 9, 2012 at 11:10 PM (Answer #1)

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Goody Putnam's ease with which she recognizes Osburn as a witch is reflective of both her own condition and the condition that has afflicted Salem.  On one hand, Goody Putnam's own condition is so warped as she has become so obsessed with the deaths of her own children that she is willing to embrace witchcraft as a cause for all that is evil in just about anyone or anything.  Goody Putnam's psychological condition is far from stable, enabling her to scapegoat anyone or anything for her own suffering.  In this, she is able to easily accept Goody Osburn as a witch as it confirms her own beliefs about who or what is responsible for the condition in which she finds herself.  At the same time, Miller's construction of Goody Putnam is this light is one in which he reveals how prone the town of Salem is in condemning "the other."  Goody Osburn is an outsider.  She is not one who represents the internal power mechanisms of Salem and she is not one who immediately conforms to what Salem demands.  Due to this, she is an outsider.  Miller's inclusion of people like Goody Putnam being so quick to judge Goody Osburn reflects how the trials gained traction and momentum.  In being able to demonize and target "the other," the practice of accusing and believing without any sort of substantiation becomes common practice in Salem. Miller shows how the process of demonizing anyone in society can become a contagious condition for which there can be no end. Through both Putnam's own internal condition and the condition that is present in Salem at the time of the trials, Miller is able to make it quite understandable to see why Goody Osburn is so quick to be judged as a witch.

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