Examine Thomas Putnam's motivations in being so willing to speak of witchcraft.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that analyzing Putnam's motivations in being able to speak so willing about witchcraft is significant for a couple of reasons.  Putnam is not necessarily an authority figure on the subject.  Yet, he speaks out of his own personal motivations.  Putnam realizes that the more people who are accused of witchcraft, the greater the chance they will have to sell off their land.  Putnam's motivations are to underbid the land value and then gain more land in Salem for a tidier profit.  His willingness to speak about witchcraft are personal in another way.  His support of his wife who is convinced that witchcraft is what robbed her of her children who died at an early age is one more reason he is so willing to speak of the issue.  Miller constructs Putnam's character as one who benefits from the accusations.  Putnam has no real desire to confront witches and has no real authority.  However, political and social circumstance stands to benefit him with more accusations of witchcraft and it is for this reason that he is so motivated to speak.  In this, Miller makes clear that the Salem Witch Trials were driven more by political reality and the desire for powers than anything related to spiritual quests for truth.  Putnam represents this drive as much, if not more, than anyone else.