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"Salem Witch Trials"; Salem's Hysteria Revealed

1333 words - 6 pages

Salem's Hysteria RevealedDuring the winter of 1692, the small village of Salem, Massachusetts, was unaware of the coming events. Powered by paranoia and fear, a wave of witch hysteria swept through the quiet Salem village. Fueled by fanaticism, religious intolerance, and many other factors, the infamous Salem Witch Trials resulted.Salem Village, also known as the "farmers", was a relatively small farming community with a population just over 500. The Salem Village was smaller than the Salem Town, which was approximately eight miles away. Salem Town was mainly used as a large port, and was a very prosperous fishing community (Kallen 14).In Salem, the Puritan religion dominated. In order to ...view middle of the document...

They defined witchcraft as entering into a compact wit the devil in order to obtain certain powers to do evil. Thus, witchcraft was considered a sin because it denied God's superiority, and a crime because the witch could call upon the devil in his shape to perform cruel acts against others (Sutter).The Salem Village had appointed a new minister by the name of Samuel Parris, who had moved from Barbados with his wife, Elizabeth Parris, daughter Betty, niece Abigail, and slave Tituba. Tituba often took care of Parris's daughter Betty, who was nine years old, and his orphaned niece Abigail Williams, who was eleven years old (Kallen 29). She served as entertainment to the two girls in the long winter days when they were trapped indoors without anything to do. The slave Tituba showed the young girls of the Salem Village numerous tricks and spells comparable to voodoo. This was against the Puritan religion since Puritans believed that God doesn't permit his followers to look into the future (Linde 10-11).All the hysteria started to begin in January during a long and bitter winter, where Betty, Samuel Parris's six-year-old daughter, came down with a "complex" illness. Betty Parris was the first of the girls to start having uncontrollable fits; soon all the girls involved in the fortune telling group began having fits and acting in a bizarre behavior. Strange behaviors that occurred included, crawling into holes, making strange noises, and the convulsions of their bodies. Soon gossiping among the Salem community about witchcraft began to increase, due to there being no cure to the girl's unusual behavior, as said by the doctor William Griggs. The doctor had not experienced previous patients that had similar symptoms to the afflicted girls and diagnosed them as bewitched.(Linde p10).As the girls' fits continued, the girls accused three people of witchery, Tituba, Sarah Good, and Sarah Osborne. None of these women were members of the Salem church. Neither Sarah Good nor Sarah Osborne admitted to witchcraft but Tituba did. Tituba confessed and was sent to jail, however, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne pleaded did not confess and were hung. Soon the girls started to convict people that were against Samuel Parris, or had an argument with the Parris's, or the families of the other afflicted girls. By the end, the girls had accused most of the people that were in conflict with their families (Gragg n. pag).One way of convicting someone was called spectral evidence. For example, if someone had an argument with their neighbor, and a few days later one of their cows died. They could use that "evidence" to accuse their neighbor of witchery, and the accused person would...

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