Salem: Witchcraft And False Accusations Research Paper

Length: 3 pages Sources: 3 Subject: Mythology Type: Research Paper Paper: #98929044 Related Topics: Beggars, Superstition, Incidents In The Life Of A Slave Girl, Puritans
Excerpt from Research Paper :

¶ … 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…

Sources Used in Documents:


Bonomi, P.U. (2003). Under the scope of heaven: Religion, society, and politics in Colonial

America. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Doty, K., & Hiltunen, R. (2002). "I will tell, I will tell": Confessional patterns in the Salem

witchcraft trials, 1692. Journal of Historical Pragmatics, 3(2), 299-335.

Cite this Document:

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"Salem Witchcraft And False Accusations", 15 August 2015, Accessed.14 August. 2022,

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