Essay on The Hysteria of Salem Witchcraft

Essay on The Hysteria of Salem Witchcraft

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The Hysteria of Salem Witchcraft



Although there has been a long history of witchcraft, the main concentration is
from the periods of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In the British North American
colonies alone there were over 100 witchcraft trials alone, were 40 percent of the accused
were executed. Now two professors, Carol F. Karlsen of history and Kai T. Erikson of
sociology, examine the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria to see if it was caused by a fear of
women and give two entirely different interpretations.

The first professor, Carol F. Karlsen, agreed that the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria
was caused by a fear of women. She agrees that the belief in the Puritian culture, that
women were evil, existed because they were seen as a potential threat to the order of the
society. That is why women were generally seen as witches.

When witchcraft was initially seen, it was uncertain of wether or not it would
benefit the New England society, because of the fast changing conditions of the early
settlement. By the late 1640’s, New Englanders believed that a witchcraft belief system as
integral to their society. The Puritian rituals, myths, and symbols from then on were seen
perpetuated to the belief that women were a danger to their society. This idea of women
connected directly to witchcraft was only reinforced by the newer post-Reformation ideas
about women.


Puritanism in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth century in England caused
much controversy over the nature of women and their roles in society. Puritian and
Catholic witch-hunters both believed that women were, “evil, whorish, deceitful,
extravagant, angry, vengeful, and, of course, insubordinate and proud.” Women “are
altogether ...


... middle of paper ...


...ere being held due the shellfishes of the
settlers. In all of this chaos I feel that it was inevitable that something would arouse from
this madness as a scape goat for the disorder that was happening. If you read through the
argument of Karlsen, you get the sense that she herself wasn’t sure of her own evidence.
She didn’t have any solid or physical evidence to support her ideas, she
only had biblical evidence that doesn’t stand out for much. I feel as Erikson did when she
said that all of the outbreaks or wars or any disturbance of that time always started with
the execution of witches. From this evidence I can only agree with that of Erikson that
the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria was not caused by a fear of women but only of the
settlement not knowing how to deal with all of their misfortunes and chaos with having an
explanation or scape goat for them.

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