Thomas Putnam Many of the characters in The Crucible have motives behind their accusations of witchcraft. They all seek some form of personal gain, such as preserving a good reputation or acquiring more land. Thomas Putnam is one of these characters. He is vindictive and bitter, and willing to do anything in order to attain more land. Salem Village, Massachusetts, was a small settlement begun by Puritans. The Puritans were a very religious group of people who believed strongly in the existence of the Devil.
Thomas Putnam "was a man with many grievances, at least one of which appears justified. Some time before, his wife's brother-in-law, James Bayley, had been turned down as minister at Salem" (1. 1). Putnam had feelings of resentment against the town even before the witchcraft accusations begin. "Putnam was the eldest son of the richest man in the village.
He had fought the Indians at Narragansett, and was deeply in parish affairs. He undoubtedly felt it poor payment that the village should disregard his candidate for one of its more important offices, especially since he regarded himself as the intellectual superior of most of the people around him" (1. 1) " Thomas Putnam's vindictive nature is demonstrated by the following story: "Another former Salem minister, George Burroughs, had had to borrow money to pay for his wife's funeral, and, since the parish was remiss in his salary, he was soon bankrupt. Thomas and his brother John had Burroughs jailed for debts the man did not owe" (1. 1) Putnam did not care that Burroughs had no way to pay his debt. Putnam had Burroughs jailed because Burroughs, instead of Putnam's brother-in-law James Bayley, became the minister of Salem.
"Bayley had all the qualifications, and a two-thirds vote into the bargain, but a faction stopped his acceptance, for reasons that are not clear" (1. 1). Thomas Putnam sought revenge on Burroughs because he became minister and Bayley did not. Putnam felt that his name and his family's honor had been tarnished, and he wanted to set things right in whatever way he could.