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Nikhil Jindia
Ms. Thompson
Honors American Lit
November 10, 2016
The High Value of Material Wealth in Society
This man [Thomas Putnam] is killing his neighbors for their land!... He means to
hang us all! (Miller 96-98). The value of material wealth in any given community or
society can be judged based on the extent to which a person is willing to go in order to
acquire more or preserve his material wealth. At times when the value put on material
wealth is too high, people can allow their desires to cloud their minds, leading to a
complete disregard for how their actions are affecting others, leading to a large variety
of consequences. In Arthur Millers The Crucible, accusations of witchcraft lead to a
series of witch trials, in which many people are wrongfully hung. These accusations and
trials are largely caused by nothing more than desire for more, as seen by the Putnams
false accusations of others in order to acquire more land. The causes and effects of
these accusations can be applied to modern society to identify the presence of and
predict the negative consequences of a significant value put on material wealth.
To start with, the actions of the Putnam family regarding their unethical ways of
gaining land, as well as the deadlock between the Putnam and Nurse families over a
land dispute show the high value put on material wealth. When people begin accusing
one another with no evidence to support their claims, Thomas Putnam decides to take
advantage and is able to avoid the effort of acquiring land by honest means when his
family accuses landowners like George Jacobs... of witchcraft: [as a result] They will be

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executed, their land will be forfeit, and he will be able to buy it" (Robinson). By
persuading his daughter, Ruth, to accuse George Jacobs of witchery, Thomas Putnam
consciously sends Jacobs to his death so that he can buy Jacobs's land. Thomas
Putnam's willingness to have an innocent person hung just to be able to buy his land
shows that he values material wealth more than someone's life. Angry at the Nurse
family for refusing to give up the land she wants, Ann Putnam accuses Rebecca
Nurse of [witchcraft]. Her main motivation is.. The [land dispute] between the Putnam
and Nurse families" (Constantakis 33). Anns accusation causes the death of Rebecca
Nurse, showing that she also values material wealth more than someone's life, further
pointing to the presence of a high value put on material wealth. In addition, the fact that
both the Putnams and Nurse families refused to concede any amount of land to satisfy
the other party shows just how willing they are to hold on to the material wealth they
have no matter the potential consequences.
In addition, Thomas Putnam's spiteful behavior, unhappy disposition, and cruel
actions show the negative effects of putting a high value on material wealth, which can
be applied to modern day society. According to an analysis of The Crucible, His
[Thomas Putnam's] vengeful, angry behavior seems to stem from his desire for power
and possessions" (Galens 126). Research shows that desire for material possessions
and wealth makes people less happy, especially when they are unable or prevented
from acquiring the material wealth they desire (Easterlin). In The Crucible, Thomas
Putnam wants more land, but other factors prevent him from getting the land he wants,
such as his fathers will and the land dispute, causing him to be angry and unhappy. In
modern day society, this negative effect takes the form of people being angry and

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unhappy at their situation and other people when they lack the means to or are being
prevented from acquiring more material wealth, which harms not only the person but
others around him/her. In some peoples pursuit of wealth, an article points out that
theyll [people who desire for wealth] take ruthless advantage of every opportunity to
turn a profitand notshyaway from turning against others in the process (Seltzer).
This is seen in The Crucible, as the Putnams see the witch trials as an opportunity to
gain land and takes advantage of it by accusing people of witchcraft in order to do so.
This is also already apparent in modern day society, as Raj Bahri, a CEO of an ATM
management business, stated in a personal interview, many businesses will lose their
way[and] forget that a business is intended to provide a service to others, not solely to
turn a profit. As stated in The Crucible, Land-lust which had been expressed before by
constant bickering over boundaries and deeds, could now be elevated to the arena of
morality; one could cry witch against ones neighbor and feel perfectly justified in the
bargain (Miller 7-8). This quote explains how the desire for material wealth can combat
and even alter someones moral compass, as seen in the Putnams accusations against
innocent people for land. Should this importance put on material wealth continue,
people will begin to believe they are right in doing cruel and evil things to others just to
get more material wealth.
In conclusion, the Putnam familys actions show the blatant presence of a
significant value put on material wealth in The Crucible. There are many symptoms of
such a mindset in The Crucible that are seen in modern society, and should this mindset
be allowed to plague our minds, soon society will become a free for all. People will
become more and more unhappy, and will disregard anyone other themselves in their

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pursuit of more wealth, causing harm to both themselves and everyone around them.
Businesses will begin to ignore the needs of the consumers as long as they can turn a
profit. Worst of all, people will allow their moral compass to be altered by desire and will
feel justified in hurting others for personal gain. As one can see, it is crucial that people
change their mindset from focusing on getting more to appreciating what they have, as
society is on a dangerous road to disaster and mass hysteria, as seen in The Crucible.

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Works Cited
Bahri, Rajeev. Personal interview. 20 Oct. 2016.
"The Crucible." Drama for Students. Ed. David M. Galens. Vol. 3. Detroit: Gale, 1998.
120-40. Gale Virtual Reference Library. Web. 26 Aug. 2016.
. Drama for Students. Ed. Sara Constantakis. Vol. 27. Detroit: Gale, 2010. 25-48. Gale
Virtual Reference Library. Web. 29 Aug. 2016.
Easterlin, Richard A. "Will Raising the Incomes of All Increase the Happiness of All?"
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization 27 (1995): 35-47. Web. 6 Sept.
2016.
Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. New York: A. Meyerson, 1953. Print.
Seltzer, Leon F., Ph.D. "Greed: The Ultimate Addiction." Psychology Today. Psychology
Today, 17 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Sept. 2016.