In modern times, the most infamous witch trials are the one that occurred in Salem. These specific witch trials are known for the unjust killings of several accused women and men. The Salem witch trials of 1692, is a big portion of what people refer to, when they want to analyze how Puritan life was during the colonial period. According to ‘Salem Witch Trials’, “The witch trials are often taken as a lens to view the whole Puritan period in New England and to serve as an example of religious prejudice…” (Ray p.32). However, as more fragments of textual evidence occur, historians are making new evaluations of how the witch trials were exaggerated by recent literature. Some historians like Richard Godbeer, analyze how witch trials were conducted during the colonial times, but in a different setting, Stamford, Connecticut. In this book, Godbeer dispels the stereotype of New Englanders being quick to judge and punish the accused. The witch trials that occurred in the 17th century were known as prime examples of mass hysteria, religious prejudice, and hastily arranged sentences. In Escaping Salem, Godbeer talks about another witch trial that made the colonists seem more rational, and more thoughtful about the consequences of incorrectly accusing individuals of witchcraft.
The way Godbeer portrays the witch hunt in Stamford, makes it seem that the witch hunt of Salem is coming from a fiction novel, and not thorough inspection of historical proof. An example of the colonists being rational in their decision making is, “The officials responsible for handling… must be irrefutable” (Godbeer pgs.7-8). This quote emphasizes the cautious manner the people of Stamford took to avoid any false accusatio...
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...ithered away over time (Ray p.32). In ‘Escaping Salem’, Godbeer was able to provide images of a petition, that was signed by Stamford residents (Godbeer p.65-66). This shows that with historical evidence proper evaluations can be executed, along with coherent and reliable conclusions.
In summation to this essay, the Salem witch trials were overstated in fiction novels and memoirs. The book ‘Escaping Salem’, depicts a more sensible colonist reaction to claims of witchcraft. The depiction was how the colonists felt when they heard about a conflict unfolding in their towns. Several articles talk about how the colonists reacted to accusations of witchcraft. These articles described a more fearful and unreasonable group of colonists. The image of the colonists during the 17th century was greatly influenced by nonfiction and fiction books published during the 20th century.
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