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Salem Witchtrails - Essay Example

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Name Instructor Course Date Salem Witch Trials The Salem witch trials marked a period in the historical annals of Massachusetts when over 200 people were suspected of practicing the devil’s magic, also known as witchcraft. The event occurred during the colonial period between 1692 and 1693 and ended in a tragic climax when twenty men and women were executed (Hill 227)…
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Salem Witchtrails
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Download file to see previous pages Without warning, the hysteria in the Puritan Massachusetts ended abruptly in the same manner it had erupted. (Hill 233) It was only after a review of the trials by the colonial government did the reality of the unfair trials and consequent death judgments emerge as a grave mistake. Despite the compensation offered to the families of the convicted, it did little in erasing the gross travesty of justice that had occurred. The aftermath of the hysteria left behind a myriad of questions touching on injustice and what exactly led to the widespread paranoia. To understand these fundamental questions, a brief account of the events that led to the wave of hysteria is necessary. The Christians of several centuries past had superstitious belief that witchcraft was a gift from the Devil to certain people in return for loyalty (Linder). Consequently, the witches would use their newly acquired powers for acts of evil against others. Inhabitants of Salem village were mostly displaced people as a result of King William’s War with the French in the American colonies (Linder). The mass influx of the displaced people to Salem resulted to strain over its resources. Consequently, this led to increase in rivalry between two opposing groups. Those who depended on agriculture and elite families whose wealth were dependent on the port of Salem. This rivalry between the two classes of groups was one of the underlying causes of the impending hysteria that would soon erupt. Moreover, tensions were also rife over control of the pulpit between the Porter and Putnam clans. The situation was father compounded after the ordaining of Reverend Samuel Parris. The people of Salem loathed him because his was greedy and rigid. Majority of the Puritan villagers blamed all the continuous bickering and quarrelling on the Devil and his witchcraft agents (Linder). The precipitating event that eventually triggered the mass hysteria was an account of some superstitious event in Reverend Parris household. During the winter period of 1692, Reverend Parris young daughter and niece, Elizabeth and Abigail respectively, succumbed to a strange illness. They were engulfed by fits of screaming, uttering strange sounds, fever, erratic running and excessive contortion of body parts. Similar strange symptoms were exhibited by another young girl Anne Putnam. Local doctors were clueless and blamed the episode on supernatural activity. The anxiety generated from the strange activity prompted magistrates John Hawthorne and Jonathan Corwin to examine the afflicted girls and identify the culprits. The girls were pressured by both magistrates to place the blame on three women. These were; a homeless beggar known as Sarah Good, a Caribbean slave from Parris’s household known as Tituba and a poor elderly woman known as Sarah Osborne. Upon interrogation of the three women, it was only Tituba who confessed to having inflicted evil upon the girl. In her confession, she gave the harrowing description of the devil with explicit instructions of service. Furthermore, she stated that the devil came to her in the image of a “black man” with a book for her to sign. The book symbolized a contract of service and with the devil for the sole purpose of destroying the Puritans. Moreover, Tituba claimed that there were many more witches out there planning to inflict on the Puritans. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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