Godbeers Salem Witch Trials Essay

  • Length: 2 pages
  • Sources: 1+
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Essay
  • Paper: #71401521

Excerpt from Essay :

America and the seventeenth century in general, as a 'century of saints'. Some also refer to the seventeenth century as the 'golden age of demoniac." Towards the end of such a holy and demonic century the 1692 Salem Witch hunt showed just how much religion and religious belief permeated society. Several were accused and executed for witchcraft in Salem. While many of the accused were just victims of an overzealous society, the Salem Witch Trials remain as part of an unforgettable part of American history. Richard Godbeer's Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692, take another look at the events of 1692 Salem, but from a different, refreshing perspective.

The book notes of the dramatic change in early New England's legal system because of the witch trials. The people's faith-based beliefs came in direct conflict with a legal system that at its base was reason and logic. But because of the paranoia of the people of the time, and their fear of potential spiritual enemies, a vocalization of their social misgivings and inexorable faith took over. This expression of voice and dissent led to disruption in social order. That disruption led to the deaths of seemingly innocent people.

What could not be explained during the witch trials with reason or logic, was left to supernatural elucidation. "But such adversities were incomprehensible only until one looked beyond the natural realm. In common with other New England settlers, the people of Stamford believed that supernatural forces intruded constantly into their lives." (Godbeer 72) This perhaps was the most befuddling of the events of Salem. An accuser could simply bring forth testimony of some previous experience that some connection to a recent event with the suspected party and would some link the two events, combining them into one event. This was highlighted at the beginning of the book on page.

This meant anything that had no normal explanation would be seen as of supernatural origins and thus pinning an accused to the problem could not just add a face to a fear, but also allow the accuser to seek justice. While it was not everyone's desire in Salem to create an environment that caused conflict and upheaval, when the opportunity came to feed into fear and hysteria, it was taken in the form of Katherine Branch. Katherine Branch was someone who they could…

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