Salem Witchcraft Trials Theories of Causes Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

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 dubbed as witchcraft. Soon, the puzzling behavior extended to other young girls in the community, and ultimately to massive parts of the Bay Colony. The Salem witchcraft frenzy of 1692 had started. The ensuing witch trials had an impact on people all through Essex county, which is where Salem village was at but also Middlesex and Suffolk counties as well, and plus margin parts of the Bay Colony in what is at the moment the state of Maine. Even today, it is by far the biggest witchcraft panic in the history of the English settlements in North America.

Historical Background

The Salem witch trials started with people accusing certain people of being witches. But the thought of witchcraft began way before these trials and false allegations even happened. In the preceding Christian era, the church was relatively accepting of people that practiced magic. People who actually had some sort of involvement in witchcraft were obligated just to make self-punishment (Mixon). However in the late Middle Ages which was around 13th century to 14th century contradiction to asserted witchcraft toughened as a consequence of the rising confidence that all miracles and magic that did not come unmistakably from God but was believed to have come from the Devil and were as a result displays of evil (Hurter). Those who experienced ingenuous enchantment, such as the wise women of the village, were progressively considered as consultants of diabolical witchcraft. They came to be observed as persons in connection with Satan.

Throughout the years of the witch-hunting hysteria, individuals were eager to tip information to accuse people. Expert witch discoverers located and would then test respondents for proof of witchcraft and were salaried a recompense for each person that was convicted. The most cooperative test was piercing: All witches were thought to have a mark of the devil, somewhere on their bodies; if they found that certain spot, it was observed as evidence of witchcraft. Other evidences comprised extra breasts (allegedly used to feed familiars), the lack of ability to whine, and disappointment in the water test. In which, women were essentially thrown into a pond or some eminent amount of water; if the woman sank, then they would be contemplated as not guilty, but if they stayed on top of the water, then they would be found guilty.

The persecution of witches weakened around 1700, exiled by the Age of Enlightenment, which layer exposed to such beliefs to a cynical eye. One of the last eruptions of witch-hunting

Happened in colonial Massachusetts in the year of 1692, when the belief in demonic witchcraft was by now decreasing all throughout Europe (Mixon). Twenty people were killed in during the wake of the Salem witch sufferings, which happened after a bunch of teenage girls became frightened while participating in witchcraft and it was suggested that these girls were bewitched. Even though a lot of lives were lost, not a single person accused were actually witches (Woolf). These citizens were held responsible because the girls kept blaming them for causing their state of bewitchment. And even though it appeared like the girls were bewitched, it was all a deception, which later on would be discovered, unfortunately, this would not occur until after the trials and after over 20 people had already lost their lives. The girls began to believe their bewitchment through the works of a slave girl named Tituba (Mixon).

Tituba was the one who took care of the home of Reverend Samuel Parris and his family. She allegedly amused Parris's daughter and niece with prohibited stories of witchcraft untruths and storytelling from her native country. Later, the girls would call her a witch, and her emotional revelation flickered the witch hunting terror. The two girls would sporadically appear bewitched or overexcited and begin to pin it on innocent citizens of the town. However, they were cautious in their picking; normally, the residents alleged were extremely unusual or weird people, isolated or not seen as particularly remarkable people around town (Hurter). This made them the perfect target to be singled out as witches: silent, weird, odd, isolated, and anti-social. Ann Putnam, an extremely best friend of the "distressed girls" later stemmed to be bewitched also, and then she would become the star witness, also the main victim.

She swore in denial of more "witches" than anyone else who stood on the witness stand. However, after it was all discovered to be a hoax, this girl became convicted with grief and regret. Later on she apologized for her role in the hysteria. Even though most of it was just a joke, it is likely that one of the "bewitched" girls died from these panic episodes. Abigail Williams, who is Samuel Parris's 11-year-old niece, by many, is believed to have died from theses panic games right after the witch-hunt had diminished (Wolf). Mary Warren, a 20-year-old maid for John and Elizabeth Procter, came on abroad with the accusations against those dubbed as witches. However, this woman began to have second thoughts after a statement regarding her employers. She bears evidence on their behalf only to get an accused herself.

Frightened, Warren came back with the confronters and kept on accusing people of being witches. Even though it was typically exiles that were persecuted, the charge and hanging of Martha Cory was of a different nature. Martha was a member of the churchgoing elite, this later never missed one day of church, and was one of the few permitted to even participate in communion (Wright). Martha was a meticulous individual in the witch-hunt, it displayed to the public that not only people that were considered outcasts and strange were accused, but also those that were churchgoing and social.

In all this confusion and allegations, only one suspect was discovered to be non-guilty. Rebecca Nurse was blamed as well, but in the trial was found not guilty (Wolf). Around 40 acquaintances and neighbors attested in her courtesy, revealing of her undying confidence and character. But the judgment from the jury produced such a tumult of fear, that the jury was made re-consider their decision, and they discovered her to be ashamed and then they hung her (Hurter). Mary Esty, Rebecca Nurse's sister was also reproached of being a witch, but she contended her position so well and in such an eloquent way, that the girls yielded and she was found not guilty. Later, they released her which was a first in the witch-trials, once the girls complained they were haunted by her ghost, they arrested her again. This time, they convicted her and she was hung on September 22, 1692 (Latner). Even though all of the "witches" were executed by hanging, a certain fellow named Giles Cory, death came in a traditional English style. He was what they called pressed. Pressing was when they would place heavy stones on a person until the eventually died. Cory died two days ahead, crushed by the weight.

The Theory of Witch Persecution: Cotton Maher

There is almost certainly no sounder report of the theory of witch-persecution, as it came to be acknowledged in all lands and by all shades of faith all through Christianity, can anywhere be discovered than that of the Rev. Cotton Mather in a powerful sermon which did much to make that assumption known and applicable in New England. The sermon, which was addressed in Boston in 1689, was printed in no time, under the title of A Discourse on Witchcraft, in Mather's Memorable Providences associating to Witchcraft and Possessions (Boston, 1689). This manuscript, "suggested by the Ministers of Boston and Charleston," was not in the least degree to blame for the great Salem persecution, which happened in 1692.

In regard to the Salem witch trials, nevertheless, it was Mather's sudden interest in the craft and activities of Satan that obtained him an audience with the most extremely powerful figures entangled in the trial events, a lot of the judges and the local preachers in Salem. Prior to the eruption of allegations in Salem Village, Mather had by now had his account, published called the Remarkable Providences (1684), talking about in detail the possession of the children of the Goodwin family that lived in Boston. Mather in fact took the oldest child, which was 13-year-old Martha, into his home and used her to make a more powerful report of the phenomenon. Later, researchers have proposed that this book in reality defined the warning signs of clinical hysteria. It was this same hysteria that supplied the behavioral model for the circle of "troubled " girls all through the…

Cite This Research Paper:

"Salem Witchcraft Trials Theories Of Causes" (2011, November 04) Retrieved January 18, 2018, from

"Salem Witchcraft Trials Theories Of Causes" 04 November 2011. Web.18 January. 2018. <>

"Salem Witchcraft Trials Theories Of Causes", 04 November 2011, Accessed.18 January. 2018,