In Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," Ann Putnam is a townswoman who falsely accuses innocent midwife Rebecca Nurse of practicing witchcraft. Despite her eight pregnancies, Ann Putnam lost seven children during childbirth and resented Rebecca's large family of 11 children.
Ann Putnam and her husband, Thomas, demonstrate how the seemingly devout community of Salem is corrupted by selfish, destructive people who only care about furthering their own interests. When the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris apparently falls sick, he initially tries to keep the town doctor's suspicions of witchcraft a secret. The Putnams aggravate the situation by trying to convince Parris to make a public declaration of witchcraft.
Ann Putnam believes the infant deaths in her family were caused by evil spirits, and when her single surviving child Ruth enters a trancelike state, Putnam claims her daughter's condition is caused by witchcraft. At the same time, Thomas Putnam uses the situation to take revenge against Francis Nurse and secure land holdings by wrongfully accusing his neighbors.
Ann Putnam's behavior is especially controversial because the woman she accuses is well-respected and considered a model of piety. When Francis Nurse appeals to the court with character statements for his wife, the corrupt Deputy Governor disregards the evidence and plans to implicate the petitioners in witchcraft, as well. Yet, Rebecca Nurse refuses to plead guilty to the charges and accepts her execution sentence with unwavering conviction.