What does Giles Corey say is the reason George Jacobs was arrested?  

Expert Answers info

Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write9,170 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In act 3, Giles Corey tells Deputy Governor Danforth that he has evidence that George Jacobs was unjustly arrested and accused of witchcraft. Giles Corey then points to a deposition written by an anonymous "honest man," who overheard Thomas Putnam instructing his daughter to accuse George Jacobs of engaging in witchcraft so that George would be forced to forfeit his land in order to save his life. Essentially, Giles Corey claims that the wealthy Thomas Putnam is using the witch trials to purchase forfeited land from innocent citizens. Putnam is aware that once a citizen confesses to witchcraft their land is forfeited, and he plans to buy George Jacobs's property after George offers a false confession to avoid execution. When Judge Hawthorne asks Giles Corey to identify the name of the man who overheard Thomas Putnam's plans for the land grab, Giles refuses to disclose the man's name in order to protect his neighbor from Salem's corrupt authority figures. Giles Corey is then arrested and eventually pressed to death by heavy stones.

Further Reading:

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Jennings Williamson eNotes educator | Certified Educator

briefcaseTeacher (K-12)


calendarEducator since 2016

write6,519 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Arts

In Act Three, Giles Corey hands his deposition to Danforth, and in it he "states that [Putnam] coldly prompted [his] daughter to cry witchery upon George Jacobs [...]."  So, Corey believes that Putnam gave his daughter, Ruth, instructions to accuse Jacobs.  Further, Corey points out that if Jacobs is convicted of witchcraft (and, therefore, hanged), his vast property goes up for auction so that anyone may buy it and "none but Putnam [has] the coin to buy so great a piece" of land.  

Moreover, Corey claims that "an honest man" told him that, on the day Ruth accused Jacobs, he'd overheard Mr. Putnam day that "she'd given him a fair gift of land."  The only way such a statement makes sense is if he was planning to buy Jacobs' land when it goes up for auction, something that is only possible if he is accused, an action that his daughter -- conveniently enough -- has taken.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial