Salem Witch Trials
Salem Witch Trials - Gender and Power in the 17th Century
The year 1692 and early 1693 saw the prosecution and execution of nineteen witches, an old man stoned to death, several accused witchcrafts dying in jail and close to 28 being cast out of the infamous Salem Village (present day Danvers, Massachusetts) on the belief they possessed power to sway people into doing what they wanted (Goodbeer, 2011, p. 2). Early 1692, the daughter; Elizabeth and niece; Abigail Williams of first Salem Village ordained minister; Reverend Parris experienced and had frightening episodes of screaming, uttering voices and throwing things around. Another girl Ann Putnam also experienced the same and under magistrates Jonathan Corwin and John Hawthorne influence, the girls blamed their conditions on three women: Tituba, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne for performing witchcraft on them (Goodbeer, The Salem Witch Hunt , 2011, p. 14).
Richard Godbeer’s ‘The Salem Witch Hunt’ puts into account the proceedings of several accused cases with most of the accused being women and the McCarthyism paranoia that gripped Salem Town. Two of the accused women; Good and Osborne pleaded not guilty but Tituba confessed practicing witchcraft and that there were many more witches in Salem. Her confession opened the doors for further more trials against witches with Governor William Phipps establishing a Special Court of Oyer and Treminern to handle the witchcraft cases. The court’s first case saw a respectable church member; Martha Corey tried and convicted making Salem inhabitants’ paranoia increase with people believing nobody was safe if a church member could be a witch. Legitimacy of evidence produced at court was questionable with spectral evidence be...
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... claimed Burroughs was unkind to his wife and did not allow her to talk to other women. Another man Giles Corey was stoned to death despite his old age.
What surprises many is the fact that leaders of community laid the whole Salem Trial process on the basis and testimonies of very young girls whom were easily gullible and their testimonies could be easily altered. This suggests that the young girls were only seeking attention that they lacked in their homes with false hysteria experiences.
In conclusion the Salem Witch Trials bring to light the perception of women in society during the 17th Century and most religious and political leaders were men. Women were not allowed to hold high office and to preach the gospel. It is a challenging issue that needs to be changed and how men perceive women take a U turn and they be given equal chances to their male counterparts.