Essay about The Salem Witch Trials : Annotated Bibliography

Essay about The Salem Witch Trials : Annotated Bibliography

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In 1692 Salem, Massachusetts, a group of young women began to display erratic and unusual mental and physical behaviour. The manifestation of the unfamiliar symptoms, and Puritan 17th century ideology, initiated a yearning for rationalization for the behaviour. Therefore to explain their behaviour the young women accused the slave woman Tituba of practicing witchcraft and afflicting them. Thus began the Salem Witch Trials.
The Salem, Massachusetts Witch Trials have generated extensive evaluation and interpretation. To explain the events in Salem, psychological, political, environmental, physical, and sociological analysis have all been examined. The authors Linnda Caporael, Elaine Breslaw, Anne Zeller, and Richard Latner all present differing perspectives to speculate about the events of the Salem Witch Trials. This changing interpretation and perspective has resulted in an extensive historiography to explain the Salem Witch Trials. Comparing and contrasting four article with differing viewpoints illustrates the historiographic significance of the Salem Witch Trials. The four authors demonstrate how differing methodologies lead to varying conclusions to explain the circumstances of the Salem Witch Trials.
The historian Elaine G. Breslaw has authored various publications on the history of witchcraft. Her 1997 article “Tituba’s Confession: The Multicultural Dimension of the 1692 Salem Witch Hunt” arguing the cultural significance of Tituba the Indian slave women was of key significance in shaping the historiography of the Salem Witch Trials. Breslaw describes Tituba as essential and pivotal, primarily because of Puritan misunderstanding and misconception about Tituba’s culture and race. Cultural misinterpretation was fu...

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...xplain the events in Salem. Latner undoubtedly factually supports his argument to the greatest extent, creating a convincing argument through his reliance on primary sources. Although Zeller and Caporael present interesting and compelling arguments to explain behaviour, their analyses lack conclusive evidence. Using suggestive facts as the basis of an interpretation is a flawed methodology. Breslaw’s establishment of Tituba as a key figure in the events of the Salem Witch Trials was an important historiographical development. All of the author’s agree Tituba’s confession was essential in initiating the events in Salem. Arguably, had it not been for Tituba’s confession, the Salem Witch Trials would not have escalated nor been of historical significance. The Salem Witch Trials provide a lens to illustrate the importance and development of historiographical methods.

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