Analysis and Comparison of the Witch Trials
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, …show more content…
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 accusations. Godbeer wrote ‘Escaping Salem’ to show that not all of the colonies went into a mass hysteria when there was a conflict amongst them. William Jones was a philologist mentioned in ‘Escaping Salem’. “William Jones summarized information that he gleaned from… the evidence against Elizabeth Clawson and Mercy Disborough”, this summarized information in his memorandum, became a list of standards of when to investigate an individual accused of witchcraft (Godbeer p.91). This list presented in his memorandum proves that before accusing an individual of being a witch, they must be investigated on account of being categorized under these specific criteria of a …show more content…
Gretchen A. Adams, the author of the journal, describes how the stereotype and image of colonial puritans were portrayed as hasty prosecutors, and victims to mass hysteria. “In fact, Salem’s witch-hunt…operated under the influence of “hysteria, witch hunts, or vigilantes”, this excerpt talks about how even in the mid-20th century people were using the Salem witch trials as an example of hysteria and prosecution (Adams p.24). In ‘Escaping Salem’, Godbeer talks about how even the people of Stamford also went into a panic, “Once the Wescots…had to be willing to speak out” (p.10). This shows that even when Stamford witch hunt was mild compared to the Salem hunts, people still can assume the worst when a conflict happens. The article later mentions how Americans in the 19th century were exaggerating the witch trials as a means of propaganda against the northern politicians, “In the 1850s… uniquely suited to derive the maximum emotional reaction from its intended audience” (Adams
One of the turning points of the war was in 1777, when the British surrendered at Saratoga with over 5,500 troops. After General Horatio Gates and General John Burgoyne came in conflict, but the latter understood that supplies were lackluster, they had to surrender. This battle would result in France entering the loop of the war and siding with the Americans, attacks from out of Canada would be secured and New England isolation would be all prevented because of this battle.
The Salem, Massachusetts Witch Trials have generated extensive evaluation and interpretation. To explain the events in Salem, psychological, political, environmental, physical, and sociological analysis have all been examined. The authors Linnda Caporael, Elaine Breslaw, Anne Zeller, and Richard Latner all present differing perspectives to speculate about the events of the Salem Witch Trials. This changing interpretation and perspective has resulted in an extensive historiography to explain the
The Salem witchcraft trials of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts can be considered a horrendous period in American history, yet is also viewed as the turning point in what was considered acceptable in a contemporary society. In a documentation of a trial against a woman named Sarah Good, the reader is able to see the way in which such an accusation was treated and how society as a whole reacted to such a claim. Sarah Good fell victim to the witchcraft hysteria because she was different, and that fear of her divergence from the Puritan lifestyle led to her eventual demise.
Starkey, Marion L. The Devil In Massachusetts: A Modern Inquiry Into The Salem Witch Trials. London: Robert Hale Limited.
The Salem Witch Trials were a series of prosecutions of men and women who were accused to practice witchcraft or have associations with the devil. The first Salem witch trial began with two girls in 1692, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams who started to have “fits”, in which they would throw tantrums and have convulsions. The random outburst of the girls threw the town of Salem into a mass of hysteria. Although historians have not found a definite reason or cause for the witch trials, they have taken different approaches to explain the hysteria that took over Salem. Some historians approach a psychological theory by proposing the girls suffered from diseases that made them act out. Other historians refer to factors such as religion, economics, and weather to explain the beginnings of an unforgettable time in Salem, Massachusetts. For over 300 years, historians have tried to reveal the truth about the beginnings of the Salem Witch Trials, but in order to do so historians must look at both the way of life in Salem in the seventeenth century and use knowledge that is available now to explain the phenomenon.
As flawed people, achieving perfection is an impossible task. Yet, despite this inevitability, individuals strive for perfection only to reveal and witness imperfections. The Puritan lifestyle attempted to achieve this unattainable mission by setting strict morals upon the people of Salem, Massachusetts, however they struggled to do so. Salem faced a major change as a result of the Puritan ambition. Because of their thought on the ideal community as a straitlaced society, those who portrayed an imperfect model were to be isolated. Suspicion flooded the holy Puritan town, and led to accusations of innocent people. After a close analysis, it may be relevant to look at the Puritan belief system as a possible catalyst for the events that occurred during the Salem witch trials.
The Salem Witch Trials were a time of confusion, where half a dozen girl accusers threw the town of Salem on its head. The end result was 19 hung and one crushed to death for failure to admit or deny witchcraft and 150 more were imprisoned throughout the course of the trial (Hall p38). The Puritans came to the “New World” for their religious freedom to fallow their ideals for a new way of life, the “perfect way of life.” They were issued charter--to live on the land--. The King Phillip’s war labeled as “[t]he bloodiest war in America’s history …which…took place in New England in 1675” (Tougias par.1) had a dramatic effect on the Puritan society. Their charter was revoked and reinstated at least twice throughout the course of the war. This stress of having their land revoked and reinstated without a doubt placed pressure on the society as a whole to develop and become self-sustaining entity free from England. After the war people would look to the church even more than they had in the past for guidance. This set the seen for the problems to come. The churches relentless attempt to maintain the society that they had established was the cause of the Salem witch trials.
The notorious witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts occurred from June through September. It is a brief, but turbulent period in history and the causes of the trials have long been a source of discussion among historians. Many try to explain or rationalize the bizarre happenings of the witch hunts and the causes that contributed to them. To understand the trials and how they came to be, we must first examine the ideals and views of the people surrounding the events. Although religious beliefs were the most influential factor, socioeconomic tensions, and ergot poisoning are also strongly supported theories. A combination of motives seems the most rational explanation of the frenzy that followed the illness of the two girls. This paper looks closely at the some of the possible causes of one of the most notable occurrences in history.
There are some events in history that put the human race to shame; however, these occasions can change our future forever. Society cannot deny that social injustices occur almost every day, maybe even more than once. One large blemish in our history, the Salem Witch Trials, alienated a certain group in our society. These trials were an unfortunate combination of economic conditions, a flock’s strife, teenage boredom, and personal jealousies.
The Salem Witch Trials were a prime part of American history during the early 17th century. During this time, religion was the prime focus and way of life within colonies. This was especially true for the Puritan way of life. Puritans first came to America in hopes of practicing Christianity their own way, to the purest form. The Puritans were fundamentalists who believed every word transcribed in the Bible by God was to be followed exactly for what it was. The idea of the devil controlling a woman and forming her into a Witch was originated from people’s lack of awareness on illness, disease or simple hysteria. The Colonists lack of expertise on the methodical approach through sciences, left them concluding to a spiritual phenomenon.
The Salem Witch Trials took place in the summer and into the fall of the year 1692, and during this dark time of American history, over 200 people had been accused of witchcraft and put in jail. Twenty of these accused were executed; nineteen of them were found guilty and were put to death by hanging. One refused to plead guilty, so the villagers tortured him by pressing him with large stones until he died. The Salem Witch Trials was an infamous, scary time period in American history that exhibited the amount of fear people had of the devil and the supernatural; the people of this time period accused, arrested, and executed many innocent people because of this fear, and there are several theories as to why the trials happened (Brooks).
During the time of the Salem Witch Trials the intertwining of religion and government did not allow citizens of Salem, Massachusetts the right to a fair trial, so it was the states responsibility to separate the two. In the 1600’s the Puritan religion was greatly enforced by the government. It wouldn’t be until many years later that separation of church and state became a law.
The Salem witch hunt was a period of pain, suffering, and disorder that was a product of iniquitous desires. This period of prosecutions and hangings represents one of the most unfortunate eras in early American History, in which religious beliefs became extreme and hypocritical. In her article, “The Lesson of Salem,” author Laura Shafiro writes, “[The] witch trials represent more than just a creepy moment in history; they stand for the terrible victory of prejudice over reason, and fear over courage.” Accordingly, as demonstrated in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, Puritan beliefs became radical during the Salem witch trials, eradicating logic and order and promoting trepidation. The court officials of Salem were intolerant of witches, and thus,