Blame for Characters in The Crucible: The Role of Mrs. Putnam in Blaming Witchcraft

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3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 589|Page: 1|3 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

In Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, the characters are consumed by hysteria and paranoia as they accuse one another of practicing witchcraft. Within this chaotic atmosphere, Mrs. Putnam emerges as a character who consistently blames witchcraft for the misfortunes that have befallen her family. This essay will explore the reasons behind Mrs. Putnam's inclination to blame witchcraft, examining her personal experiences and motivations. Ultimately, it will argue that Mrs. Putnam's unwavering belief in the supernatural allows her to shift the blame for her own misfortunes onto others, contributing to the escalating accusations and tragedies in the play.

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Mrs. Putnam's blame on witchcraft stems from her personal losses, particularly the deaths of her seven children. Throughout the play, she mentions this tragedy several times, attributing their deaths to supernatural causes. For instance, she states, "I'd not call it sick; the Devil's touch is heavier than sick" (Miller 25). This quote highlights how Mrs. Putnam rationalizes her children's deaths as the work of the Devil, rather than considering other possibilities. By blaming witchcraft, she attempts to find a reason for her grief, offering her some semblance of control over the situation.

In addition to her personal losses, Mrs. Putnam's blame on witchcraft is fueled by her desire for revenge. She resents Rebecca Nurse, a respected and revered member of the community, who has had many healthy children. Feeling envious and bitter, Mrs. Putnam believes that supernatural powers are responsible for Rebecca's good fortune. This resentment is evident when she says, "There are wheels within wheels in this village, and fires within fires!" (Miller 39). Here, Mrs. Putnam implies that there are hidden forces at work, implying witchcraft, which she believes is responsible for her misfortunes. Her belief in supernatural powers allows her to justify her feelings of revenge and shift the blame onto others.

Mrs. Putnam's unwavering belief in witchcraft has a significant impact on the escalation of accusations and the subsequent tragedy in Salem. Her constant blaming of witchcraft encourages others to follow suit, creating a domino effect of accusations. For example, when she insists that Betty's illness is due to witchcraft, other characters also begin to suspect supernatural involvement. This is evident when Mrs. Putnam states, "I'd not answer such a  charge; I'd have you examined for  such a charge!" (Miller 41). Mrs. Putnam's insistence on seeking out witches to blame spreads fear and paranoia throughout the community, leading to the trials and the chaos that ensues.

Mrs. Putnam's relentless blame on witchcraft contributes to the tragic outcomes in The Crucible. The accusations and trials that result from her beliefs lead to the wrongful executions of innocent individuals. Furthermore, the community is torn apart, friendships shattered, and trust destroyed. Miller uses Mrs. Putnam's character to illustrate the dangers of unchecked blame and the devastating consequences it can have on individuals and society as a whole.

In The Crucible, Mrs. Putnam plays a significant role in perpetuating the blame for witchcraft. Her personal losses, desire for revenge, and unwavering belief in supernatural powers all contribute to her inclination to blame others. Through her actions and influence, Mrs. Putnam fuels the hysteria and paranoia that ultimately lead to the tragedy in Salem. Arthur Miller's portrayal of Mrs. Putnam serves as a cautionary tale, reminding us of the destructive power of blame and the importance of critical thinking in times of crisis. As we reflect on this play, we are compelled to consider the broader implications of blaming others without sufficient evidence and the potential consequences it can have on individuals and communities.

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Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Penguin Books, 2016.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

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Blame for Characters in The Crucible: The Role of Mrs. Putnam in Blaming Witchcraft. (2024, Jun 13). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 22, 2024, from
“Blame for Characters in The Crucible: The Role of Mrs. Putnam in Blaming Witchcraft.” GradesFixer, 13 Jun. 2024,
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