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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Am I seriously sympathizing with this character?

I'm currently teaching The Crucible for the "I've lost count because I've done it too much"th time.  I can recite entire sections of the darn thing.

So, as we're working our way through Act I, in walks Ann Putnam.  If you're not on as intimate terms with this play as I am, allow me to explain.  Ann Putnam is a manipulative, hateful woman who gets other women killed in the name of witchcraft.  Not the kind of woman you'd want to be friends with, lest she send you to the gallows...literally.

Suddenly I find myself sympathizing with this woman.  The motive behind all of her hate is the death of seven of her eight children.  They all died on the day they were born.  I actually almost cried when discussing it with my class today.  The women buried seven babies and was looking for a she turned to witchery.

Seriously?  I'm mentally defending this woman?  I don't want to feel sympathy for the crazy Puritan woman who sent her only living daughter off to a seance to communicate with her dead siblings!

My experience isn't limited to this instance...I find myself increasingly sympathizing with women like this in fiction.  It's bizarre.  We aren't meant to sympathize with Ann Putnam...we're meant to recognize that she was motivated by a legitimate reason, then condemn her for being so destructive.  But, yeah, no, I kind of see her point.

Not going to lie...witchcraft makes more sense sometimes than, "it just happens". 

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