In the play "The Crucible", what does Mrs. Putnam say about Goody Osburn when Tituba accuses her?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is actually a very interesting and revealing part of the play, because it shows Goody Putnam's previously held biases and prejudices.  Earlier in the act, she confesses that she sent Tituba out to discover "who murdered [Ruth's] sisters."  All of Mrs. Putnam's babies had died (seven of them), except for Ruth, so, Mrs. Putnam jumped to the illogical and rather ignorant conclusion that it must have been a witch that had cast a spell upon the babies at their birth, and that was what had caused their deaths.  She has even formed her own guesses as to who might have done it; the midwives who helped her to give birth to her children would be "likely" suspects.

When Hale is first questioning Tituba after Tituba "confesses," Putnam rather conveniently tosses out Good and Osburn's names, supplying Tituba with possible candidates for witches.  Tituba is put under severe pressure to name the names of the women who she "saw" with the Devil, so she grasps conveniently for the names already mentioned, that of both Sarah Good and Goody Osburn.  After Tituba mentions them, Mrs. Putnam bursts out with,

"I knew it!  Goody Osburn were midwife to me three times.  I begged you Thomas, did I not?  I begged him not to call Osburn because I feared her.  My babies shriveled in her hands!"

As Osburn's name is called out by Tituba, Mrs. Putnam throws in her emphatic reassurance that this must be true, since her babies died after Osburn helped to birth them.  This statement reveals that she had already had Osburn in her mind as a suspect character.  It also shows that the Putnams have great prejudices against some people of the town, and are ready and willing to supply names that the accusers can then just pick up and use as scapegoats.   I hope that thest thoughts helped; good luck!

Read the study guide:
The Crucible

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