There are a number of characters of interest in the play the “Crucible”, by Arthur Miller, but one of the most interesting for me is Thomas Putnam. I think, he is a static hero. At the beginning of the play we know that
Thomas Putnam was the eldest son of the richest man in the village. He had fought the Indians at Narragansett, and was deeply interested in parish affairs. He undoubtedly felt it poor payment that the village should so blatantly disregard his brother for one of its more important offices, especially since he regarded himself as the intellectual superior of most of the people around him. He had good facilities for life and he was a smart man who thought only about himself. His vindictive nature was demonstrated long before the witchcraft began. Thomas and his brother John had Burroughs jailed for debts the man did not owe. Putnam felt that his own name and the honor of his family had been tarnished by the village, and he meant to right matters however he could. He also attempted 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. So it is not surprising to find that so many accusations against people are in the handwriting of Thomas Putnam, or that his name is so often found as a witness corroborating the supernatural testimony, or that his daughter led the crying-out at the most opportune junctures of the trials. He was the selfish man from the very beginning of his life and he doesn’t stop on his way of getting as much money as possible when accusations of witch trials started.
Tomas Putnam is not the key character of the play and it is even more interesting for me. He doesn’t play a big role in moving the plot of the story along, but his role of additional character is shown very well. I think that the author wanted to show us an intelligent and selfish person who will always follow his way, no matter what. This situation is very vital for our society today. People take care about themselves and their plans, and not paying any attention to other people’s lives and life that don’t involve money or personal satisfaction in it.
Thomas Putnam is thinking only about himself and he plays the role of the machine that wants to get money and only money. He doesn’t care about his family and witchcraft in the village as long as it doesn’t bother his reputation and wallet. Thomas doesn’t want to worry and believe in witchcraft when Betty become sick, because it will leave a blemish on his good name. He is talking about his status in the village and respect, when he should care about her health and other things that happen around him. Putnam is ready to fight and kill a person for the land and forest on a property that he claims his property. He says: ”You load one oak of mine and you will fight to drag it home!” It also shows his selfishness. Thomas thinks that he is a very important person on the village, but people don’t care about him a lot. They didn’t support his brother in the elections when he thought they were going to win. Thomas Putnam is also trying to make other people behave themselves the same way he is and put himself in better situation. He said that he’s never heard Proctor worried about society. He is telling this to make people think bad about everyone else except him. Also Thomas is afraid of authority. He doesn’t want any kind of troubles and arguments with the Court. He would better sign any papers, confess or accuse anybody in witchcraft then have any argument with anybody, who is stronger than he is.
All these events don’t change Putnam’s view of life. They play a big role in his life, because he can make plans and fight for his interests against his enemies accusing them in witchcraft and giving the “evidence” to the court. Thomas doesn’t change through the play. Putnam was a selfish man at the very beginning and at the end he is thinking about his own interest. He even made his own daughter cry about witches and witchcraft, just to get the cheap land from people who are in jail. In the court he denies that he did that, but people already know. So, everything he does, he does to become a wealthy man, to get more money and get respect in the village. Thoughts about money is the engine inside his head that makes him live with one physical aim, to get this financial advantage on people. He is a contradiction to Proctor and Rebecca Nurse who decided to give their physical life for the truth and wait for the real court in heaven with God.
Thomas Putnam is not a key character. Play can be without him, but I think it wouldn’t be that successful. Even though plot of the story can develop without him, Thomas Putnam plays a big role in balancing and contradicting characters, so the reader can actually see and understand what the author wants to show us. His role in the book and in his life is small and not vital, but very important for understanding details of the story and adding “color” to the play and “Crucible” world.