The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

The Devil in the Shape of a Woman

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The Devil in the Shape of a Woman The Devil in the Shape of a Woman is a book that deals with the persecution of females in colonial America. Many women were killed and many were banned from the colonies for being accused of being witches. The men of the time had the same beliefs of their fathers, husbands, and sons. The men were hard struck in their effort to do away with woman that stood out or were different.
The main reason that the females were persecuted was due to the men being afraid of the women getting too much power. The men got nervous when the women had private meetings and discussed topics that only men of the time should have been talking about. The men took this as a threat that the women were trying to take over, or that they were trying to change their role in the society. The Puritans strived upon there adherence to the rules, and this caused a problem when a woman would do something as unheard of as tell her opinion. The accusers could be someone that the women were talking in private to that would tell a man of the town. The men had brainwashed nearly all the women to ensure that there was a check on the women that they could not reach. One trait that the men found to be very evil was that of beauty. Beauty was said to have control over the men. The men said that the women with beauty could posses the men's minds and cause them to do things that they would not do otherwise.

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Witchcraft was used as an enforcement of social order by punishing the women to discourage any other women from straying away from the rules. The men thought that if they made the women scared to do anything wrong, they would not do anything wrong. This worked to an extent, yet there were some women who fought till their death for their rights. The men found it very easy to take their pressures from society and blame it on women and on witchcraft. If someone grew ill, they would blame a woman close to them that may have had a prior occurrence with them. The men would find any reason that they could to divert the problems of their society. The Puritans lived by such a strict structured life that they had to find a reason for everything to happen and they had to find blame for their ills. The witches eased their yearning for resolution and gave their society a warning to stay in the parameters of the law and in the light of the word of Jesus.
The creation for the need of witches came with the men of the societies need for a place to blame ills. The men made the idea of witches prominent so that they could carry on with their life and have all sins paid for. The men saw the woman of the town as more of a servant and less of an equal to them. When women got together and talked over the bible, their men, or things going on in the town, it was considered to be against the rules. The men had rules for everything. There religion was so strict that the women would be lucky to not have been called a witch in their lifetime. The men blamed everything that happened to a woman, and said that she was a witch casting a spell. The witches were necessary because the society needed a place of blame. The needed to feel that they were doing write and that the wrong was not part of them but an evil force that was interfering with their relationship with God. That is what was most important to the people of the early colonial America, to be in touch with what God asked of them. For these reasons the men and sometimes women of New England tended to blame all ills on the obvious problem, the women.
Once again the book dealt with the persecution of women and how the men dealt with the woman that they thought to be of problem. The men needed a place to take their problems, and they needed a way to say to God that they had fixed the problem. So they ended up persecuting women of a crime to which they were innocent. Although the persecution was wrong, their society needed a way to blame its wrong doings and move on with their life under God's vision.


The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England. By Carol F. Karlsen. New York: W.W. Norton, 1987.
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