This essay describes the events of 1692, that happened in Salem, America. Witchcraft and the things that surround witchcraft trials throughout history have long been a subject of fascination to the American public. This essay focuses on the book Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692 written by Richard Goldbeer…
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It then moves on through the story in a logical and roughly chronological manner, moving to “Katherine Branch’s Fits,” the fits that began the trials, the examination of the causes of her suffering in the section “Who is it that torments her?” before pausing to outline the incredibly detailed legal proceedings that were involved in determining the guilt or innocence of the accused, the different kinds of evidence that can be used and so on (Goldbeer, 16, 33, 51. This section is probably one of the most interesting in the entire book – witchcraft trials are so often portrayed as being filled with hellfire and brimstone preachers, publics willing to believe anything, and judges willing to hide sordid secrets, Goldbeer’s description of the highly elaborate systems involved is truly fascinating (57). There was a very clear legal delineation between the kinds of evidence that could or could not be used to accuse someone of being a witch, and overall the tenor of the discussion held were much more reasonable than one would think (59). Furthermore, it is incredibly interesting to see that overall the judges and public tended to be much more critical in examining evidence of witchcraft than is usually described, and in fact tended to disbelieve accusations of witchcraft rather than lend them credence. The book then goes on to describe the debates held about this particular case, the incredibly emotional debates that followed, and the uneasy truce that follows any witchcraft trial regardless of the outcome. Finally, it closes with a long afterwards that talks about the forces that come to bear on any witchcraft trials in either the modern times...
This essay begins by briefly describing the contents of the book, then moves on to the successes and failures of the work. This work succeeds in balancing academic concerns with concerns over readability, and does a good job playing off of the myth of Salem to demonstrate how witchcraft trials actually occurred in the vast majority of cases, while connecting the lessons learned from witchcraft trials in the seventeenth century to instances occurring today and demonstrating why it is important to understand what truly happened. The only major failing of this work is a side effect of its success: to preserve readability and narrative structure, Goldbeer does not clearly demonstrate where he got which sources, which makes it hard to analyze the where he gets the information for his narrative excerpts. In conclusion, the researcher states that Goldbeer’s Escape from Salem is an excellent book and should be read by anyone with any interest in witchcraft trials in general or in the Salem trials in particular. It especially succeeds in how well written it is, how accessible it is, and what an excellent job it does conveying the world of seventeenth century America to the reader, while it fails somewhat in creating a clear delineation between elements of conjecture and elements that are more certainly factual. It is incredibly interesting to learn the truth about how witchcraft trials usually actually progressed, and how the case of Salem was an aberration, not a pattern.
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(“Escaping Salem the Other Which Hunt of 1692 Book Report/Review”, n.d.)
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(Escaping Salem the Other Which Hunt of 1692 Book Report/Review)
“Escaping Salem the Other Which Hunt of 1692 Book Report/Review”, n.d. https://studentshare.org/history/1437617-escaping-salem-the-other-which-hunt-of-1692.
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