SALEM WITCHES Hysteria & Tragedy (Annotated)


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Hale, a man who remains neutral; Rev. Parris, a man that wants to keep his reputation; and John Proctor, a man that tries to keep his honor, was resulted from the results of the witch trials The climate was colder and the rules of religion much stricter, thus having an impact on the colonists living in this colony. The physical and cultural environments of these colonies were without question a factor that played a major part in the Salem Witch Trials. John M. These trials resulted in more than people being accused of witchcraft, with twenty being killed. The accusations of local women of witchcraft caused hysteria to spread throughout the town.

Still to this day the cause or reason for the madness is perplexing. At the time there was a witch scare sweeping across the North East of America in a time we know today as the Salem Witch Trials. The witch trials was one of the most shameful events in American history. In fact, it was compared to another event by a man named Arthur Miller. Strong Essays words 4 pages Preview. The Salem Witch Trials concluded the war between faithful people and evil people, and brought the long awaited justice to Salem village.

Different historians presented varying opinions about the consequences and effects of the Salem Witch Trials. Reverend Samuel Parris played a pivotal role in preaching Christianity as well as eradicating evil from Salem village at that time. Religion was enforced among the people of Salem village, which created dispute against church-members and the non-church members The accusations caused a wave of mass hysteria throughout colonial Massachusetts.

Most of the accused persons faced imprisonment, while others lost property and legal rights Fifty-two were tried. Thirty were condemned. Twenty were executed, most by hanging; one man was crushed to death with stones Shortly after, the village girls began to behave in a peculiar manner by crawling under things and making abnormal noises.

Strong Essays words 3 pages Preview. At this time there appeared to be an outbreak of witches. This started when the children of the Goodwin family begin having mysterious fits. The doctors, not knowing what had happened to the children, blamed it on witchcraft. From that point on many people were accused of being a witch and were killed. This occurred for many different reasons; either they were hanged for their crimes, crushed by stones for refusing to stand trial on their cases, or from waiting in the jail for so long before their case came up People were executed based on accusations of being a witch.

People were afraid of being accused. Chaos continued to ensue as neighbors, friends, and family turned against one another. The very people who lived under the same roof turned around accused their own flesh and blood of witchcraft.


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The events that occurred during the Witchcraft crisis would claim the lives of nearly 20 men and women via execution. Witchcraft was considered a capital crime and anyone accused was tried and potentially executed The Salem Witch Trials happened in colonial Massachusetts between and During this event over people were accused of being witches and the ones found guilty or would not confess were executed 20 people ended up being executed. The court finally admitted the trials were a mistake and compensated the families of those convicted Blumberg.

Before the witch trials Salem had a colorful history Better Essays words 6. This event would take place due to the odd behaviors of several adolescent girls that claimed three women were tormenting them. They were then taken and trialed by a jury that would determine their culpability which would sentence them to be hanged The Salem Witch Trials was one of those major catastrophes. The Trials caused panic and hysteria throughout Salem. Many innocent people died or went to jail for being accused a witch. People who were considered to be their friends or neighbors were turning on them accusing them of witchcraft.

This event caused problems with trust and paranoia between many people. Turns out that the Salem Witch Trials were just a hoax after all. The mass hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials began in early Most of the testimonies given by the townspeople were random happenstances that were told to make the accused seem guilty. Other types of evidence given were statements about the accusers being bitten and pinched; this apparently classified as bewitching someone.

Some of the accused claimed to be conspiring with the devil so they would not be executed and instead be put in prison Godbeer Arthur Miller was able to subtly protest the rise of McCarthyism through his literary works, especially in his play The Crucible, because he understood the universal experience of not being able to believe that the people have gone insane The outburst of these events could be blamed on several things. Certain things like economics, medicines and culture have to be taken into account when trying to understand the events of the Salem Witch Trials.

People like Franklin Jr. Mixon, Linnda R. Caporael, Dr. Allan Woolf, Elaine G. Brewslaw, and Isaac Ariail Reed take into account one of the three: economics, medicines and culture and explain as to why or why not the event happened the way it did disregarding all the other factors The Salem Witch Trials occurred due to tension reaching its peak in Salem, Massachusetts that effected women even to this day. In the year , Salem was officially established located on Massachusetts north shore.

Most of the settlers were English or of English decent and as a result they carried over many English laws. Also in the year , England issued a charter that allowed young Salem the right to self-govern 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 Elizabeth Proctor was married to a honest, blunt-spoken man named John Proctor.

Married young, the couple seemed to be shying further away from each other instead of closer together. Elizabeth was a moral, composed, Christian woman who believed she lead the perfect life. Because she was honest, courageous, and reverent, Elizabeth would rather have sacrificed her life than lie to try and save it The Salem Witch Trials created a distinct nuance, that marked a dark period in American history. The dramatized version of the Witch Trials, The Crucible, resulted in a semi accurate representation of the historical events that occurred in Salem Massachusetts.

The author Arthur Miller, wrote the playwright by incorporating factual content, as well as imaginary aspects that brought the characters of the Witch Trials to life The random outburst of the girls threw the town of Salem into a mass of hysteria. Although historians have not found a definite reason or cause for the witch trials, they have taken different approaches to explain the hysteria that took over Salem It is believed that only people associated with the devil can perform such acts.

The story of witchcraft is first and foremost the story of women. Although there is a more disturbing and more sinister part of our history. We refer to this as the Salem witch trials occurring in Massachusetts between and You might have heard of this from your history class, more than people were accused of witchcraft and therefore killed. Even though none of these were said to be true, however those that were accused were usually either trialed or hanged in front of the fearful townsmen. As a result of these accusations on fellow townsmen over people died from the Salem Witch Trials.

The practice of witchcraft was commonly believed in the English colonies, the people of Salem Village was very edgy and fearful of death While writing the script Miller visited Salem in order to grasp a sense of the scenery. The Salem Witch trials and the anti-communist trials had some similarities and differences. The events that took place in would prove to be a turning point for not only the people of Salem but the rest of pilgrim towns in The New World.


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  • What set the trials in motion is still partially a mystery. Whatever the cause, it is known that the results of the trials were inhumane and brutal. Over thirteen people were sentenced to death during the witch trials. These trials were a set of accusations and arguments set in rapid succession, resulting in mass hysteria and the conviction of over men and women For every good thing it could easily be spun to the bad. What led them to the Salem Witch trials. Many individuals were executed at the accusations of them conducting with craft.

    In this day in time anything too technological had to be at the hands of a witch. These events occurred due to the ignorance of many afflicted girls. Many innocent people gave up their lives and protested their innocence of witchcraft. According to the websites, there is little known about the accusers. Salem begins with the afflicted: there are no trials without the seizures, screams, and fits. These afflictions began with young girls who would remain the core group of the afflicted, but they spread to a host of others, including males and adults such as John Indian and Ann Putnam, Sr.

    What explains the bewitched? A variety of notions have been advanced, and the only one consistently refuted has been the one that dominates popular imagination: ergot poisoning. According to this idea, the afflicted consumed a fungus that grows on moldy rye bread, causing symptoms similar to those of LSD.

    History of the Salem Witch Trials

    All scholars rule out this possibility. Much more likely is that the girls simply faked it. The very evidence that rules out ergot poisoning—the intervals of affliction, the lack of serious harm to the afflicted, and the idea that these afflictions seemed to be able to start and stop on command—suggests the possibility of fraud. All scholars agree that at least some fraud was involved, and certain members of the afflicted group, such as Mary Warren, seem particularly suspect.

    Such survival strategies seem to indicate clear cases of fraud.

    Annotated Bibliography

    At the same time, the kinds of stress Mary endured could cause mental breakdowns that might blur the lines between fraud, fatigue, and fear. If friends, family members, respected ministers, and magistrates all believe that you are tormented by specters, at what point do you begin to believe them? So, too, hysteria can be contagious. Is it fraud to fall when others fall, or fear when others fear?

    Such lines can sometimes be hard to draw. As Emerson Baker usefully points out, cases of contagious fear, anxiety, and hysteria have broken out in modern times as well, even as recently as in New York public schools amid teenage girls who suffered symptoms quite similar to those of Salem. As for the accused, how did their names come to the afflicted? The first three names make sense: they fit the usual description of witches. But once witchcraft expanded to church members and Puritan ministers, does any rationale explain how one person came to be accused while another person escaped?

    Theories abound, beginning primarily with the economic disparities proposed in Salem Possessed , but most recent scholarship settles on the idea of religious division within the community. When the witch hunt began in Salem Village, the afflicted came primarily from families who supported Samuel Parris, and the accused came primarily from families who opposed him. As the witch hunt passed on from Salem Village to surrounding communities, accusers seemed to seek out those who were religiously corrupt in some way—those who failed to attend church regularly, who did not participate in sacraments, who failed to become full members of a church, or who had some kind of connection to Quakers, Baptists, or other religious dissidents.

    This religious rationale does not explain all accusations, but it seems to make the most sense of identifying the accused. When the accused stood before the court, they came into the presence of another influential group: the judges. It is one thing for young girls to become afflicted and accuse others of witchcraft; it is quite another for court magistrates to believe them and to prosecute almost every name they produced. Recently, attention has turned from the local antagonisms of the afflicted and the accused to the role of the judges and magistrates who seemed to push the trials forward. At Salem, magistrates disregarded both precedent and advice.

    In the previous sixty years of Puritan settlement, there had been sixty-one prosecutions for witchcraft, with at most sixteen convictions and executions, a rate of The elite defined the deed as a covenant with the devil; most of the non-elite saw it as a harmful use of magic. Common citizens brought their testimony of harm to magistrates, but harm in itself proved nothing. Successful prosecutions required either a confession or two witnesses to confirm that someone had made a pact with the devil.

    For sixty years, confessions were hard to come by and pacts with the devil were hard to prove. More important, in the previous several decades of Puritan New England, ministers and magistrates were decidedly uneasy about spectral evidence; it could identify a potential suspect , but it could never be used to convict.

    From Hysteria to Tourism: Witches in Salem - Part 2

    At Salem, spectral evidence convicted. It was relied upon as insight into the unknown, as valid testimony of the invisible world. The changed use of spectral evidence would be one of the strangest and most unsettling aspects of Salem, one that informs the work of writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and an element that scholars continue trying to explain. New England law had previously limited accusations of witchcraft and other crimes by requiring the posting of a bond; in order to curtail frivolous cases, people had to pay money in order to lodge a case with the court.

    At Salem, that requirement was dropped. As a result of the conditions surrounding witchcraft before Salem, not only were there fewer complaints made in previous decades, but those complaints were far less successfully prosecuted. For sixty years, commoners and lay people had pressed for the conviction of witches, and for just as many years their political and religious superiors had pressed back even harder. At Salem, all of these precedents would be ignored or reversed. Bonds were not required for many months, swelling the number of complaints.

    Confessions, some of which were produced by illegal torture, saved the lives of those who confessed. Those doomed by their denials of guilt, meanwhile, were often convicted almost exclusively on the basis of spectral evidence. As the accused protested their innocence, the afflicted girls would fall, twist, scream and writhe, pointing to an invisible tormenter.

    Since all could see the torment itself, two witnesses of witchcraft were not required—assuming, that is, that one could trust the spectral evidence. The court ignored the tomes on witchcraft that previous courts so carefully studied. Where the conviction rate hovered just above 26 percent in previous decades, the rate at Salem would be percent. Why did the judges want convictions? Perhaps these judges needed a way to prove they were on the side of godly Puritans, while also finding a conspiracy of witches to be a handy excuse for their failures.

    In addition, as Baker reveals, these judges were mostly related to each other through marriage. The only unrelated judge was Nathaniel Saltonstall, and Saltonstall was the only judge to resign from the court in protest. Why they suddenly sought convictions is difficult to determine, but if the judges had not so desperately wanted the prosecution to succeed, the witch hunt could never have taken off. For whatever reason, the magistrates must have had a great deal to gain in The records of the Salem witch trials are an endless testimony of suffering.

    Loss, despair, anxiety, and sorrow pour out of the testimonies. Without witchcraft, all these losses would register as afflictions requiring repentance; but with witches to blame, the guilt could be alleviated. Witches, in other words, changed the dynamics and experience of loss. That may not have been the explicit rationale for many witnesses, but it certainly seems to have guided the thinking of Samuel Parris.

    Parris, the embattled minister whose children started throwing themselves at open flames, was the fourth pastor of Salem Village. The first three had short tenures, invited by one faction but opposed by another. Few had their salaries paid; all would leave Salem for less than stellar careers; and one, George Burroughs, would be hanged as a witch.

    Salem Village offered one of the lowest ministerial salaries in the entire colony, and its reputation of bitter factional divisions preceded it. In , no one with an actual divinity degree could be lured to its parish. He tried his hand as a merchant in Boston and failed there, too. Finally, Salem Village asked him to preach. For a year, he wrangled about the terms of his salary, his wood supply, and the ownership of the parsonage.


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    • In his first sermon, he demanded that congregants love, serve, and obey him. Then he removed the Halfway Covenant that allowed God-fearing congregants who were not full members to baptize their children. It was clear from the start that Samuel Parris would not heal this divided church.

      The trouble with Parris seems especially evident from his preaching. As scholars have shown, Parris posed no neutral ground: all people were either of God or the devil, and his goal was to parse and separate. From the moment he first began preaching, Parris spoke of cosmic battles. Frequently, the concerned faction supporting Parris met at his house to discuss the crisis facing the church, strategizing how to deal with all those who opposed him.

      It makes sense, then, that his house is where the fits began. But Parris was not the only Puritan to see Satan at work, gathering forces for a violent battle against godly New England. Written at the behest of the governor, deputy governor, and chief magistrate of the Salem witch trials, this text chooses five cases, selectively presents the evidence, and defends the court in its work for Christ.

      Governor Phips liked that account of things. He sent Wonders of the Invisible World to London as the official history of Salem and prohibited anyone else from publishing on the subject once the trials ended. But the very need to silence opposition proved how few agreed with Cotton Mather.

      One town’s strange journey from paranoia to pardon

      Resistance started mounting immediately, propelled by the case of Rebecca Nurse; during her examination, more than three dozen citizens signed a petition proclaiming her innocence and defending her good character. Petitions continued to grow during the trials, with more and more brave persons signing documents attempting to save the lives of their neighbors.

      No petition worked. Yet the rising cry of protest did finally have an effect, bringing the noise of opposition and resistance to those who held the most power in the colony. Soon Increase Mather joined the protests, publishing his own account of Salem while the trials were underway. That book, along with the protests of several leading Boston ministers, finally convinced Governor Phips to stop the trials. The trips to Salem by Increase and Cotton Mather reveal their different mentalities.

      Yet that line of thinking—that the devil might appear as an angel of light—could also damn the very trials it was meant to support. If the devil could appear in any shape, then perhaps the devil had taken the shape of someone innocent. When Increase Mather traveled to Salem, therefore, he did not go to encourage the executions; instead, he visited the jails and spoke with the accused, including many who had confessed.

      There he learned about the extreme pressures applied to them and found that many had confessed because they believed it would save their lives. While talking with them, he witnessed the suffering of innocent persons in terrible, sickening jails, and he turned against the trials for good.

      When Increase returned home, he wrote the book that would help bring them to a close. The mysteries of Salem are many, various, and difficult to solve. Why were these people afflicted? Why were those people accused? Why did the judges reverse decades of precedent in an effort to convict and execute as many as they could? And how did the ministers respond? Who supported the trials, who opposed them, and why? These kinds of questions have produced contested answers, all attempting to balance the relative weight of importance behind each actor or cause. Salem is filled with questions.

      And while extensive records survive, those records seldom offer answers able to settle all disputes. The abiding mystery of Salem seems one reason for its enduring legacy. Governor Phips attempted to ban any discussion of Salem, but within three years that ban was violated, and no future silencing could take place. Thomas Maule, a Quaker, was the first to challenge the official proscription, with Truth Held Forth and Maintained in The book had a long chapter criticizing the government for its handling of Salem.

      It was burned and Maule was arrested, spending several months in prison before facing many of the same judges and prosecutors he had attacked. Yet Maule stood by what he wrote. First, he defended its claims; then, slyly, he argued that his authorship could not be proven: anyone could have put his name on the title page. The grand jury found him not guilty, and the ban was broken. From that moment forward, critiques and reassessments of Salem have poured from the presses. Yet many of these skeptical voices were not so clear about what exactly had happened: mistakes were made, to be sure, but the precise nature of those errors could not be determined.

      Something had gone wrong, but who was to blame? In , Ann Putnam Jr. The darkness of Salem often seems the aspect most remembered today. In popular histories, the Puritans usually appear as stock figures of backward superstition—hateful, unenlightened religious bigots who saw witches in every shadow and enjoyed nothing so much as a good hanging. Some were among the most intelligent and advanced figures of their day. Cotton Mather, for example, would become the first New Englander inducted into the British Royal Society, and his work promoting smallpox inoculation in later years would save far more lives than Salem lost.

      As Sarah Rivett has carefully demonstrated, the way in which Puritans approached evidence and testimony during the Salem witch trials—even and especially spectral evidence—was inflected through their embrace of empiricism. Still, something seemed to change at Salem—or rather, Salem seemed to demonstrate that something drastic had already shifted. The Salem witch trials have been presented in various ways as the end of Puritan New England.

      Perhaps Salem helped usher in a new age of religious skepticism, though belief in witchcraft persisted. More important, the relationship of state to church seemed to change. The ministers, too, seemed to recognize their weakening authority in their ambiguous responses and their inability at least in most cases to confront the magistrates openly. Histories of the Salem witch trials begin with the records of the trials, and those documents raise their own sorts of questions.

      Secondhand accounts from several witnesses survive, along with confessions, petitions, and many of the preparatory documents for trial such as depositions, indictments, and examinations , but the records of the actual trials before the Court of Oyer and Terminer have gone missing. In addition, the record book of the Salem Village Church does not contain the crucial years. Beyond a catalogue of what exists or not, we also have to take into consideration who did the recording, an aspect of the records made newly available by the extraordinary edition Records of the Salem Witch-Hunt.

      We know now, for example, that Thomas Putnam Jr. Thomas Putnam and his extended family including his afflicted wife, daughter, and servant would account for accusations and the prosecution of fifty-eight people, one-third of the total number accused and arrested. The question of who wrote what and how documents were stylized, as well as questions of language and genre, shape our understanding of the surviving records and accounts. For example, Thomas Putnam has been noted for his use of stock phrases. As scholars have also highlighted, Putnam particularly loved to involve the heart. What stock phrases worked, and what made them work?

      Who else was involved in writing records, and how did their styles differ? B79 See especially pages B75 LawAnxS. Brown, David C. E7E81 : Burns, William E. E9B87 Burr, George Lincoln. B Calef, Robert. More Wonders of the Invisible World Craker, Wendel D. Demos, John.

      D38 Francis, Richard. S Godbeer, Richard. W5G63 Hansen, Chadwick. Witchcraft at Salem G. Braziller, BF H25 Hill, Frances. H55 Hoffer, Peter Charles. W5H Karlsen, Carol F. K Le Beau, Bryan F. Levin, David.

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      SALEM WITCHES Hysteria & Tragedy (Annotated) SALEM WITCHES Hysteria & Tragedy (Annotated)
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