ABSTRACT

Betty Putnam is a short play by William Carlos Williams set during the Salem witch trials. Known chiefly as a poet, Williams once thought he would make his name as a playwright. Between 1909 and 1912, he composed several plays based on early American history, which show he was already considering the usable American past that he would later construct in In the American Grain (1925). Betty Putnam was his first literary exploration of Salem, and Williams dealt with the subject twice more, in In the American Grain and in Tituba's Children (1950). By tracing Williams's engagement with Salem and how it changed from the Progressive Era to the Cold War, one sees that it mirrors that of American culture generally. The Progressive Era Betty Putnam, with its happy ending and assertive new woman, seems far removed from the dread and violence of the McCarthy period writings.

You do not currently have access to this content.