Analysis Of Franklin G. Mixon's Homo Economicus And The Salem Witch Trials

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From June through to September of 1692 the Salem Village, Massachusetts, was in a state of constant panic and suspicion as young girls began to exhibit strange behaviour and claimed they were possessed. As a result of the trials nineteen people and two dogs were hanged, one man pressed to death by rocks, eight other persons sentenced to death, fifty expecting sentence and one hundred and fifty awaiting trial in gaol. Historians have offered many explanations for these events including: real witchcraft within Salem or hysteria through the belief in witchcraft, pressures of the puritanism religion and its leaders encouraging the events, fraudulent behaviour from the afflicted, ergotism and other physiological illnesses, and finally, social circumstances …show more content…

Mixon’s ‘Homo Economicus’ and the Salem Witch Trials. This work overviews the exploitation of witchcraft for the Puritan churches economic gain, this is supported by McClure and Van Cott (1994) who believe that history and folklore can represent financial principles and Boyer and Nissenbaum (1971) who propose that the Salem witch trials give understanding in regards to the relationship between church and economics. As the population was becoming increasingly displeased with the Puritan church their profits and attendance also decreased, therefore when young girls started acting unusual the ministry grasped the opportunity to give an explanation that would turn the townspeople back to their faith. Coercion by authorities can be evident in Samiel Parris’ sermon, in which he says, “We are either Saints or Devils – The Scripture gives us no medium” . Moreover, a similar situation in Northampton Massachusetts where ministers claimed that God had ‘touched’ the community, resulted in higher attendance to which Boyer and Nissenbaum state that the congregation were, “ever eager to hear...the words of the minister as the come from his mouth...The place of resort longer the tavern, but the minister’ house.” Robert Calef, who disliked Mather, stated that Mather and the minters encouraged the hysteria to bring people back to the Church. This is reinforced by Charles W. Upham, who wrote that Mather brought about the witch craze to “increase his own influence over an infatuated people” by making them believe he could “vanquish evil spirits” and “hold Satan himself in chains by his prayers and piety.” However, in 1956 Samuel Eliot Morison disagrees and stated Robert Calef “tied a tin can to him after the frenzy was over; and it rattles and banged” through the ‘pages of history’, moreover he believes that Mather

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