The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 Essay examples

The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 Essay examples

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The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692

The Salem witchcraft trials of 1692, which resulted in 19 executions, and 150 accusations of
witchcraft, are one of the historical events almost everyone has heard of. They began when three
young girls, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam began to have hysterical fits, after being
discovered engaging in forbidden fortune-telling (not dancing naked in the woods) to learn what sorts
of men they would marry. Betty's father, the Reverend Samuel Parris, called in more senior
authorities to determine if the girls' affliction was caused by witchcraft. Although Betty was sent away
fairly soon, and did not participate in the trials, the other girls were joined by other young and mature
women in staging public demonstrations of their affliction when in the presence of accused "witches."
The events in Salem have been used as a theme in many literary works, including the play by Arthur
Miller which we are going to read during this unit. They are interesting to anthropologists because
they display some of the characteristics of "village" witchcraft and some of the features of the
European witch craze. Many commentators have seen the Salem witch craze as the last outbreak of
the European witch craze, transported to North America. As in African and New Guinea villages, the
original accusations in Salem were made against people who, in one way or another, the accusers
had reason to fear or resent. Moreover, the first few of the accused fit the definition of "marginal"
persons, likely to arouse suspicion. However, as in Europe, the accusations spread, and came to
encompass people not involved in any of Salem's local grudges. As in Europe there was a belief that
the accused were in league with the Devil and "experts" employed "scientific" ways of diagnosing
witchcraft.

Interestingly, during the colonial period in Africa, shortly after World War II, there were a number of
witch finding movements in Africa, which resembled the Salem episode in some ways, and had a
similar status "in between" the sort of witch hunt found in Europe and the typical African pattern.
Typically, in these movements, "witch finders" would come in from outside a village and claim to be
able to rid the village of witchcraft. At this period there was great dislocation, with people moving
around because of government employment, a...


... middle of paper ...


...er trusted them. This was likely to be a more
acute problem in the U.S., since the people who were named by those who cooperated with the
Committee weren't hanged and put out of the way, just fired and left to try to lead the resistance to
McCarthyism. Namers of names sometimes found themselves with no friends at all, since
anti-Communists often still failed to trust them. The issue of resisting collaboration with the witch
hunters was important enough to Miller that he altered history, and portrayed the trials as stopping
when more people refused to confess when, in fact, a significant increase in confessions probably
served to cast some doubt on the validity of individual confessions.



Taking liberties with the text is one of the characteristics of the interaction between humans and their
myths. And a charter myth is certainly what the witch hunts in Europe and Salem have become,
though they have more basis in fact than most myths. The stories of the witch hunts are charter myths
for our time, to be told by feminists, left-wing intellectuals, and lawyers for President Clinton, each
taking what he or she needs from the story, adding or subtracting as seems fit.

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The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692: The History, Proceedings, and Legal Consequences of the Mass Hysteria

- The first bout of panic came about in January of 1662, when a few young women and girls had a series of violent and hysterical fits. They claimed that they were being “tormented” by apparitions of members of the community. Many members of the community were horrified by the violence of these fits, as well as the anguish that the women and girls went through (Godbeer). On January 20th, Reverend Parris’ 11year-old niece and 9 year-old daughter respectively, Abigail Williams and Betty Parris started to have fits that were quite horrifying in nature....   [tags: religious misconception, violent fits]

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- The Salem witch trials of 1692 were one of the bloodiest witch-hunts in America colonial history. The event started in the house of the new minister of Salem, Samuel Parris, when his daughter, Betty, suffered from mysterious symptoms, and later she accused her slave, Tibuta, for using witchcraft on her. Later, two other women, Sarah Goode and Sarah Osborne, were accused of using witchcraft on other girls; right after the accusations, they were arrested (Lecture 9/13/2016). As a result, the hunt of witches began which led to hundreds of arrests, and nineteen accused were hanged (Text 190)....   [tags: Salem witch trials, Witchcraft, Salem]

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