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Salem Witch Trials

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Kellee Walter

History MWF 10 A.M.

Professor Jackson

September 6, 2018

Salem Witch Trials

Puritan culture had made it a norm to believe women were weaker than men; therefor citizens of the Salem Village in 1692 had every right to believe that the power of evil consuming a women’s body was more than just a feud following neighborhood accusations. Creating conflict in an already conflictual society; Salem Village was amid having no legally established government to determine the punishment for this odd behavior. Once the possibility of the evil spirit entering a human body became relevant, the witch panic became the focus of Salem. The depth of the Salem Witch Trials falls into categories of sexism, the gratitude of pushing someone else into blame leading to prosecution, as well as the everlasting effects false accusation can have on the comfort of society.

        Salem Witch Trials have created an eternal idea that witchcraft meant more than flying around the air on a broomstick, but a greater evil taking over the body of the infected, leaving them uncured without prosecution or a jail sentence. In 1692, the idea of witches started after a numerous amount of misfortune came across the Salem Village. It wasn’t until agriculture down spiraled, disease spread, and war broke out, that the concept of a supernatural spirit taking over became possible and to blame for the hardships the colony faced. According to the Introduction to Godbeer’s, The Salem Witch Hunt, “The Salem Witch Hunt convulsed an entire region of New England. It destroyed lives, devastated families, and left neighborhoods scarred by shared tragedy, resentment, and recrimination.” [1] The devastation of the colony was blamed on none other than the reoccurring work of the Devil, believed by Puritan religion. Tons were susceptible to be taken over by this supernatural behavior. The Salem trial took place from February of 1692, lasted until May of 1693, causing dozens to be taken in for trial; many prosecuted, hanged, or placed in jail until the trial was over. The actions of the accused were said to be that of a supernatural creature, “They did in the assembly mutually cure each other, even with a touch of their hand, when strangled and otherwise tortured; and would endeavor to get their afflicted [companions] to relieve them.” [2] Violent actions like these gave the Puritan culture reason to believe in a great power taking over.

During 1692, The Salem Witch Trials was said to have started with an attack against women standing up and retaliating the belief that they were weak and more susceptible to sin than men. This was a belief woman thought to be unfair, and they did not deserve to be treated as any less than the men of the society. It led to a cultural crisis when 3 girls, started having “weird fits”, worrying their already panicked families and neighbors. The idea of bewitching became the talk of Salem. As written by Godbeer, “Many of the accusations in 1692 substantiate the argument that witch-hunting functioned as a way rid the community of women who were perceived as disorderly and thus dangerous.” [3] When the Salem Witch Trials begun, the blame shifted from both men and women, to a significant number of just women. 78% of those accused and put to trial were woman. With this being said, the culture of Puritans believed that women were not to live up to par of the men, and they were looked at as nothing greater than child bearing, house-wives whose job was to please the men of Salem Village with no education on the greater good. A stigma has been created for the Puritans, leading them into the false belief that women are more susceptible to sin and greater evil. Creating this idea, it gave men the power to target woman who stood up for their rights, as behaviors none other than “evil” or “witch like”. Women all over Salem were put to test with urine filled cakes to see if their behavioral tactics were that of witches, or simply a ploy to gain respect. If any women were to step up and create an image of leadership for herself, she would then be sought out as a threat, and face repercussions whilst being punished; or in this case, be accused of supernatural powers.



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