The Salem Witch Trials: Fact or Fake?

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The Salem Witch Trials were the most famous, most deadly, and most studied witch trials in the British colonies according to author Brian Pavlac.(138) What started out as innocent child's play ended with 19 deaths and one killed by being pressed to death with stones. The events were gruesome, tragic, and filled with irrational behavior. The people of Salem, who were mostly of a puritan background, were driven by fear, to stop those who were consorting with the devil, and cleanse their town of all evil. This however, remains to be seen as the true intention of all of those involved with the witch hunts. These trials, which took place over the course of the winter of 1691 through the summer of 1693 were a time of uncertainty, paranoia, and deceit. The question remains however, were these proclaimed “witches” actually consorting with the devil, or was this just a ploy to dissolve feuds among neighbors and families and to preserve the good name of the families with witch this all originated? The events began in the winter of 1691. “In order to cure their boredom, the young Paris children entertained the idea of Satan in the house of the Lord.” (Rice 17) These two girls were related to the pastor of the town. “One, nine year old Betty Parris, was the daughter of the pastor and the other, eleven year old Abigail Williams was the niece of the pastor.” (Rice 15) They were under care of a slave named Tituba. She would entertain the girls during cold winter nights with stories from her former life. Now these two girls were very different in personalities. Marion L. Starkey, from Rice's book, describes the two: Nine year old Betty Parris was a sweet, biddable little girl,ready to obey anyone who spoke with conviction, including ... ... middle of paper ... ...o, CA: Lucent, 1999. Print. April 2011. MacBain, Jenny. The Salem Witch Trials: a Primary Source History of the Witchcraft Trials in Salem, Massachusetts. New York: Rosen Pub. Group, 2003. Print. April 2011. Nardo, Don. The Salem Witch Trials. Detroit: Lucent, 2007. Print. April 2011. Pavlac, Brian Alexander. Witch Hunts in the Western World: Persecution and Punishment from the Inquisition through the Salem Trials. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2009. Print. April 2011. Rice Jr., Earle. The Salem Witch Trials. San Diego, Ca: Lucent, 1997. Print. April 2011. "Salem Witch Trials FAQs." Salem Witch Trials Page - History of the 1692 Witch Trials in Salem. Web. 02 May 2011. . April 2011. Starkey, Marion Lena. The Devil in Massachusetts: a Modern Enquiry into the Salem Witch Trials. New York: Anchor, 1989. Print. April 2011.
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