One of the features of this play is that Arthur Miller steps in to the action and offers the reader important background information about the various characters as he introduces them in Act I. For Thomas Putnam, he gives us a quick history of his background and in particular what has made him become so bitter and vindictive, which explains his high level of involvement in the witch hunt. Not only was he bitter about the appointment of the minister for Salem, as his brother-in-law was not accepted in spite of Putnam's support, but also, Miller tells us that there were issues and circumstances surrounding his inheritance that have embittered him:
Another reason to believe him a deeply embittered man was his attempt to break his father's will, which left a disproportionate amount to a stepbrother. As with every other public cause in which he tried to force his way, he failed in this.
Putnam is therefore identified as a highly embittered and vindictive individual who is obsessed with greed and getting his own way. Small wonder, Miller concludes, that he should have been such a key player in the witch trials and that his name accused so many.