Why is Thomas Putnam bitter in Act 1 of The Crucible?

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rshaffer eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Thomas Putnam is bitter for several reasons.  Miller tells the reader in the narration in Chapter I that he had many grievances with people. 

The first grievance mentioned is that his wife's brother-in-law, James Bayley, was rejected as minister of Salem even though he was highly qualified for the position.  There was a faction (large political party) who kept him from being voted into that position. 

Second, he tried to break his father's will, which left a disproportionate amount of wealth to his stepbrother.

Because Thomas Putnam viewed himself "as the intellectual superior of most of the people around him" (Miller 14), he took it personally when the faction rejected James Bayley.  He felt it was an attack upon his honor and his good name.  In addition, his failure at breaking his father's will was again humiliation of his honor and his what he believed his good name.

As a result of this humiliation, Thomas Putnam found his revenge by accusing many people of witchcraft and also having his daughter cry out against the innocent people of Salem Village.

favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In addition to Thomas Putnam's bitterness over Salem politics and religion as well as the bitterness he experienced as a result of his father's will, Putnam is also bitter because of the deaths of seven of his eight children.  His wife, Anne, claims that seven of her eight babies died within a day of their birth, and they have no good idea why.  Now, the health of their one surviving child, Ruth, seems to be failing (she, like Betty Parris, is ill) and, again, they have no explanation. The Putnams believe that witchcraft must be to blame for this terrible pattern because they cannot conceive of another reason for them to have such bad luck and for others, like Rebecca Nurse, to never lose a child nor a grandchild.  When Reverend Parris says that he doesn't think a witch is to blame, Putnam grows angrier.  He says, "I am one of nine sons; the Putnam seed have peopled this province.  And yet I have but one child left of eight—and now she shrivels!"  This is yet another reason for his bitterness.