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Essay on The Accusation of Witches in Puritan, New England

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The American weakness in times of trouble is the instinctive act of finding a scapegoat. Stemming from the Calvinistic religious beliefs of the Puritans who immigrated to America, anything that strays from the predestined lives of these puritanical people is the result of sin. The ideas of "original sin" and "predestination" are at the heart of Calvinism. Thus, the Calvinist Puritans have their lives planned out for them by God before birth and anything that disrupts that plan must be eradicated. It was on the basis of this stringent religious way of life that the witch-hunts on 1692 came about. The accusation of people, beginning in Salem, Massachusetts and quickly spreading throughout the Puritan community began because the Puritans needed a scapegoat for their problems. The Puritans accused people of being a witch for actions that were hardly considered illegal and usually had to do with a threat posed to the church. Webster's Dictionary defines a "witch" as 1. A woman practicing the black arts; 2. A charming or alluring woman; 3. An ugly old woman; 4. One supposed to possess supernatural powers with the devil or a familiar. The last definition being the only applicable definition here is hardly pertinent. The phenomenon of the witch-hunts in Puritan New England rose out of flawed theory, sexism, and fear as seen in John Winthrop's account of the trial of Anne Hutchinson, the actual transcript of the trial of Anne Hutchinson, and Arthur Miller's The Crucible.



The argument over "Covenant of Works vs. Covenant of Grace" is, in the Puritan community, of greater importance than the argument over the separation of church and state. The idea behind the two covenants is that in the covenant of works, one can do good deeds and,...


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...nts can be attributed to any number of things, but fear is at the heart of it all.



When examined from the point of view of a human living in the 21st century, with political, religious, and natural freedom, the Salem witch trials seem ridiculous. Though there was an element of lunacy behind the witch-hunts, the motivation for the manhunts was well founded. When placed in a comfortable society, why would you seek something to destroy it? The people of Puritan New England had no reason to destroy their society. There was religious comfort in a country that allowed them to live as they pleased. The imposition of fear, created chaos of their world and gave birth to what some consider a reign of terror. Paranoia, accusations, trials, and killings engulfed the simple society of Puritan New England and caused a reaction that will forever be attributed to fear.




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