Ann Putnam in The Crucible

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Ruth Putnam in The Crucible

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Death-Ridden
  • 0:58 Gossip
  • 1:48 Sensationalizing
  • 2:36 Sorrow Gone Bad
  • 3:37 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed
Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lauren Boivin

Lauren has taught English at the university level and has a master's degree in literature.

This lesson provides an overview of Ann Putnam in Arthur Miller's 'The Crucible.' Mrs. Putnam doesn't have many lines, but her character gives us some insight into the underpinnings of the Salem Witch Trials.


Have you ever known a gossip loving person? Someone who prefers a scandal to a calm day, and is even eager to spread the word even it may cause trouble? You may have known someone like Ann.

Ann Putnam is introduced in Arthur Miller's The Crucible as 'a twisted soul of forty-five, a death-ridden woman, haunted by dreams.' When one is ridden by something, one is dominated by or obsessed with it. Soon after, we learn that Mrs. Putnam has 'laid seven babies unbaptized in the earth.' Clearly, the poor woman has seen much death and it is understandable that she might be somewhat haunted by it after losing seven children as infants.

We aren't told explicitly whether her soul is twisted of its own accord or in reaction to the grief she has endured. There remains some ambiguity throughout the play on this matter, leaving the reader room for conjecture regarding Ann Putnam's character.


The opening narration for the play tells us that the 'predilection for minding other people's business was time-honored among the people of Salem.' Ann Putnam certainly seems to be doing her part in upholding this tradition. One of the first things she says upon entering Betty's room is, 'how high did she fly, how high?'

Even after Reverend Parris (Betty's 'father') assures her the girl has not flown at all, Mrs. Putnam answers, 'Why, it's sure she did. Mr. Collins saw her goin' over Ingersoll's barn.' The stage direction further tells us that she is 'very pleased' with this idea.

Shouldn't she be more concerned about the girl's health than she is about scintillating bits of gossip? Ann Putnam's delight in the troubles of others doesn't exactly endear her to the audience, despite our inevitable sympathy for the loss of her children.


To go with her love of gossip, Ann Putnam also seems to have some relish for sensationalizing events. We are told that, as she lays ill in bed, Betty covers her ears at the sound of a psalm being sung on the floor below her. Any ordinary person could likely think of several innocent reasons for wanting to drown out the sound of singing while sick in bed, like a headache, perhaps? Or the simple wish for quiet?

But not Mrs. Putnam! No - she decides Betty is covering her ears because she can't bear to hear the name of Jesus because she is possessed by some demon. 'That is a notorious sign of witchcraft afoot,' she declares, 'a prodigious sign.' In addition to allowing a juicy bit of gossip to trump her concern for Betty, Ann Putnam allows her desire for a sensational story to trump any attempt to reach the truth.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account