Who are Ann and Thomas Putnam? What do they suggest Betty's problem is? What is their motivation for this suggestion?

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amarang9 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Ann Putnam enters, she is described as "a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams." She is immediately convinced that Betty is preyed upon by an evil spirit and/or the Devil. 

There is considerable backstory about Thomas Putnam. He is a man with many grievances. He wanted his brother-in-law to become minister of Salem but he was denied the appointment. Thomas Putnam is vindictive and had even jailed the man who was made Salem's minister for debts accrued in paying for his wife's funeral. He also contested his father's will because he did not think so much land should have gone to his step-brother. He is greedy and quick to accuse of others when he does not get his way. 

Mr. and Mrs. Putnam have lost seven children at childbirth. Their only remaining daughter, Ruth, seems to be affected the same way Betty is. Mrs. Putnam concludes that her seven lost children were "murdered." Both Mr. and Mrs. Putnam believe that a murdering witch is responsible. Mrs. Putnam reveals that she sent Ruth to join Tituba and the other girls in order to speak to the dead and find out who killed her children. The Putnams need someone or something to blame for their misfortunes. Therefore, when they see how Betty and Ruth have been afflicted, following the night with Tituba, they conclude that it is witchcraft. 

The Putnams feel that they have been cheated in many ways. They look to accuse others for their misfortunes. Mrs. Putnam believes that witchcraft has something to do with her seven children. Mr. Putnam will use the accusations of witchcraft to argue over land. He is a greedy opportunist.