¶ … supernatural phenomena were associated with everyday life emerged in 15th century Europe and spread to the New World with the influx of European colonists (Bonomi, 2003). Seventeenth century colonists in the New World had been using charms to foster the growth of crops, control the weather, etc. As these beliefs served to provide a sense of control over otherwise uncontrollable conditions for them (Bonomi, 2003). However, the notion of dark magic was also prevalent during this time and the notion that demons and evil spirits could possess people were common superstitions in the New World during this period (Bonomi, 2003). The Salem witchcraft trials did not represent the first time people were executed for witchcraft in the world; however, these particular incidents have endured over time to represent the mindset of individuals during the time period as well as serving as a type of metaphor for types of accusations that are unfounded and based on fear (e.g., the origin of the term "witch hunts"; Ray, 2003).
Salem Village, MA was first settled in 1626 and was primarily an agricultural community (Goff, 2009). The infamous witch trials began in 1692 when a group of young girls in the village claim to be possessed by Satan and accused several local woman of witchcraft. Prior to this there were rumors of witchcraft in neighboring villages that obviously created...
In January of that year nine-year-old Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, the 11-year-old daughter of the minister of Salem, began to display violent fits, bodily contortions, and seemingly uncontrollable screaming out episodes (Norton, 2007). The local doctor, William Griggs, diagnosed the girls is suffering from bewitchment" (Goff, 2009). Following this diagnosis several other young girls in the village began to display similar symptoms (Elizabeth Hubbard, Ann Putnam Jr., Mercy Lewis, Mary Walcott and Mary Warren; Norton, 2007). Accusations of practicing witchcraft and bewitching the girls were made against particularly vulnerable female residents beginning with a Caribbean slave Tituba, a homeless beggar Sarah Good, and an elderly woman Sarah Osborn (Doty & Hiltunen, 2002; Norton, 2007). This led to a wave of hysteria spreading throughout the village and a special court was convened to hear the cases (Doty & Hiltunen, 2002).
The three accused women appeared before the magistrates Jonathan Hathorne and Jonathan Corwin and were questioned with their accusers present and continuing to display bodily contortions, screaming, and spasms (Doty & Hiltunen, 2002). This most likely resulted in a very dramatic scene and provoked quite a bit of emotional behavior in the magistrates, the defendants, and the accusers. Osborn and Good denied practicing witchcraft; however, Tituba confessed to practicing witchcraft most likely to protect herself from the harsh inquisition that would follow and to offer herself as an informer to further protect herself (Doty & Hiltunen, 2002). Tituba claimed that there were…
Later most people admitted that they had overreacted to the situation and even Cotton Mather confessed that "errors" had been made in handling this crisis. The chief judge William Stoughton came under attack for his overzealous response to the accusations which led to many innocent deaths and false convictions. He however refused to shoulder any blame for the situation. Samuel Parris also did not accept his role in triggering
Salem Witch Trials -- Theories and Causes In the year 1692, a tragedy occurred that is remembered to be one of the most immense disasters of American History. In a small region of Salem village, which is now the now Danvers, MA area, in the home of the provincial minister Samuel Parris, a little girl started acting in s strange predicament. It would not be long before this behavior would be
As the Puritan leadership took the stand that their decisions were made directly from the scripture (indeed there was an absolute marriage of Church and State within these communities) any challenge to their processes (such as a newcomer objecting to the financial controls placed upon them) could be then perceived as evidence of a person who is not in alignment with God. Newcomers were more likely to propose challenges
Salem Witch Trials were an atrocity in a period of American history. Several young girls, who had heard tales of the supernatural from a West Indian slave, claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused three women of witchcraft. Put in that position, the three women, in turn, named others in false confessions (Merriam-Webster 1416). This caused hysteria much like Joseph McCarthy caused in 1950 in his hunt for
According to Ray, those explanations ignore what more recent research has identified as the principal cause of the witchcraft hysteria in Salem: religious paranoia, intolerance, and persecution. In that regard, Ray details the historical record showing that the principal origin of the Salem Witch Trials was in the intense antagonism on the part of Reverend Samuel Parris toward village residents who refused to join his congregation. For months before the
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