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Potential Causes Of The Salem Witch Trials Essay

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In the early winter of 1692, the first speculations of witchcraft occurred with the female children of Salem. Reverend Parris’ daughter nine-year old Betty Parris, and his niece Abigail Williams, began to display terrifying and peculiar behavior. Their outbursts, body contortions, and eerie actions were similar to the ones of the Goodwin children in 1688. Soon after, other Salem girls began to demonstrate the symptoms that flabbergasted the town.
There are many literatures works and in-depth studies over the trials. Even now, there is still no certain reason why or how the hysteria of witchery befell on the village. The Salem Witch Trials are best described by George Lincoln Burr:
The episode is one of the nation's most notorious cases of mass hysteria, and has been used in political rhetoric and popular literature as a vivid cautionary tale about the dangers of isolationism, religious extremism, false accusations and lapses in due process. (197)
There were different theories of why the Salem girls acted the way they did. Family feuds, influences, ergot poisoning, and the bewitchment of Satan are potential concepts of the witchcraft hysteria. Not to mention, the female stereotype of witches through lack of religious faith and social class caused the deaths of nineteen people and unforgivable scars and pain for dozens more.
Historical evidence points out family feuds between the Putnam and Porter families, an important theory to the reasons behind the accusations. The whole town of Salem was a part and engaged in this heated quarrel for the control of the village. The two families had different views for Salem and Kate Murphy said it divided the village into two factions, “One interested in gaining more autonomy for Salem Villag...


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...rk: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1966. Print.
Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1987. Print.
Karson, Anastasia. Revenge in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria: The Putnam Family and George Burroughs. Loyola University New Orleans, 1998. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
Kramer, Heinrich and Jacop Sprenger. “Malleus Maleficarum.” Malleusmaleficarum.org, 2002. PDF file.
K-Z, Anna. Ergot Theory Could Clear Accused Witches. University of Chicago, 2012. Web. 6 Dec. 2013
Linder, Douglas O. The Witchcraft Trials in Salem: A Commentary. University of Missouri-Kansas City, 2009. Web. 5 Dec. 2013.
Murphy, Kate. Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. University of Virginia, 2001. Web. 6 Dec. 2013
Robinson, Enders A. The Devil Discovered: Salem Witchcraft 1692. New York: Hippocrene Books, 1991. Print.



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