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Gender and Power in the Salem Witch Trials Essay examples

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In his view, the girls were “under an evil hand” (Godbeer 2). Thus the quote from local Salem Village physician William Griggs in January of 1692, to start what became known as The Salem Witch Hunt and Trials. At the end of the seventeenth-century, the small village of Salem Massachusetts was predominantly Puritan and governed by Puritan laws. The Puritans were educated, middle class folk who were able to pay for themselves and their family’s way across the Atlantic.
The Puritans were mainly artisans and middling farmers by trade and in the wake of the reformation of the Church of England, left for the colonies to better devout themselves to God because they saw the Church of England as a corrupt institution where salvation was able to be bought and sold, and with absolutely no success in further reforming the Church, set off for the colonies. English Puritans believed in an all-powerful God who, at the moment of Creation, determined which humans would be saved and which would be damned (Goldfield 45).
Puritans in the colonies had established communal and family hierarchal orders to govern themselves. At the top of the power structure was the village Pastor who over saw all community grievances and disputes, being either spiritual or worldly in nature. In the family structure the power belonged to the father or the male elder of the household. David Goldfield said, women in Puritan New England were held in high regard and given great responsibilities though they were assumed to be legally and economically dependent on the men of the families. Women’s economic contributions were indeed central to the family’s success. In addition to caring for children, cooking, sewing, gardening, and cleaning, most women engaged in household p...


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...appenings of everyday life turned into something more. From the belief that women were more susceptible to evil intimidation and for having a weaker constitution since Eve was tempted by the Devil to having a non-existent court system to settle disputes between neighbors or just the fact that there were people who saw an opportunity to gain personal wealth, the Salem witch hunt and trials was more than just a religious cleansing of the community by pious people. They were a microcosm of what could happen when people do not understand the relationships between themselves, their neighbors and the natural cause and effect of the world around them.



Works Cited

Godbeer, Richard. The Salem Witch Hunt A Brief History with Documents. Boston, New York: Bedford/St. Martins 2011
Goldfield, David. The American Journey A History of the United States. New Jersey: Pearson 2011



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