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Salem witch trials - Book Report/Review Example

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Mary Beth Norton, In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 A Book Review Introduction Mary Beth Norton was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1943. She received her B.A. from the University of Michigan in 1964, her M.A. from Harvard University in 1965, and her Ph.D…
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Download file to see previous pages (Norton, 2003, A Note about the Author). Her work as an editor includes Major Problems in American Women’s History, with Ruth Alexander, The AHA Guide to Historical Literature, and Women of America: A History, with Carol Berkin, etc. In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 is considered a unique account of the events in Salem, Massachusetts, from mid-January 1692 to September 1693, which had led to over 20 deaths of men, women and even infants (Norton, 2003). Having described the horrifying situation from a seventeenth-century perspective, Norton not only expounds on the accusers, the accused, the judges and the critical turning points, but also moves beyond the immediate vicinity of Salem and takes the events up against the background of the Indian wars on the Maine frontier in the last quarter of the seventeenth century (McCullough, 2003). In the Devil’s Snare is widely acclaimed as a compelling study of the Salem witchcraft crisis, a nuanced piece of archival research, as well as a landmark achievement and standard-bearer for American history (Aronson, Brown, Winner, 2003). Summary The introductory section of In the Devil’s Snare: The Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692 begins with Norton’s explanation of her motives in writing the book. In Norton’s own words, “few other incidents in the seventeenth-century Anglo-American colonies have been so intensively studied by historians. And yet much of the complicated Salem story remains untold” (Norton, 2003, p.3). The brief summary of the events that took place between mid-January 1692, or 1691 – according to the Old Style (Julian) calendar, which had been in use in the British colonies until 1752 – and the first week of September 1963/2 exhibits the brute facts of the crisis – a legal action had been brought against “at least 144 people”, mostly women, and resulted in the hanging of 14 women and 5 men, one man being pressed to death by heavy stones, and the deaths in custody of three more women and a man, “along with several infants” (Norton, 2003, p.4). As Norton points out, the crisis began with the visions of “two little girls living in the household of the Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem Village” of ghostly specters that caused them to suffer from fits, and gathered momentum during the next months with a growing number of accusers claiming “to be tortured by the apparitions of witches” and to have seen “the ghosts of dead people charging the witches with killing them” (Norton, 2003, p.3). Given the lack of obvious explanations for many events – whether sudden children’s deaths, mysterious ailments among the livestock, or strange noises being heard and ghostly visions seen – in the 1692 world, Norton considers it quite in the order of things that then New Englanders frequently blamed the supernatural forces, more often than not a malevolent witch, for their troubles (2003, p.6). Not surprisingly, there were many precedents in both New England and the mother country, such as the Hartford witchcraft incident in the early 1660s, the stories of Elizabeth Knapp (the late fall and early winter of 1671-1672) and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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Women and Society in Carol Harlsen's The Devil in the Shape of a Woman
Name: Date: Class: Book: Karlsen, Carol F. The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial America. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1987. Women and Society in Carol Harlsen’s The Devil in the Shape of a Woman In a detailed documentary study of the 1692 Salem witch trials, Carol Karlsen offers an insightful and challenging interpretation on the role of women and gender in seventeenth century New England.
3 Pages(750 words)Book Report/Review
Salem witch trials
Much as with many of the books written concerning the Salem witch trials, it is the belief of this reviewer that the author of the book sought to write it not only as a historical and objective account of the events that took place, but also as a stark warning to the dangers that a theocratic, superstitious, and close minded community can affect not only upon themselves, but upon the outside world.
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The doctrines of the Puritan church to which Nathaniel Hawthorne belonged, had a strong element of Calvinism with its stress on total depravity. At the catechism, children were drilled in the idea that everybody was a sinner. It was the prevalent religion in New England at the time of Hawthorne, and many of the writers and thinkers of that period were influenced by the doctrine of total depravity of man which their church advocated.
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Out of his denial came the devils that destroyed the very community he strove to keep safe. It was no accident that Satan strode forth from God's house" (Frances Hill, 1997, p.2).Most researchers and authors, including Frances Hill, believe that Samuel Parris was mainly responsible for the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
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Besides, the king of Scotland, Duncan, the most noble and benevolent ruler whom Macbeth murders, and the three witches, who appear in the very first act of the play with supernatural powers coupled with mischief and malice, and whose predictions sow seeds of ambition and self-doubt in Macbeth that propel him towards committing the heinous crime.
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In 1688 Mary Glover, an Irish servant girl, was hanged as a witch and four years later in nearby Salem, the infamous Salem Witch Trials began which led to a mass execution within the Puritan community . During the Salem witch trials which occurred between 1692 and 1693 over 150 people were accused, arrested and imprisoned for the offence of witchcraft, 19 were hanged or crushed to death and 17 others died in prison.
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Author Richard Goldbeer is trying to deconstruct these trends in his book Escaping Salem: The Other Witch Hunt of 1692. In this book Goldbeer describes and analyzes the events surrounding the lesser known witch hunt of 1692 Stamford, Connecticut. He presents a very interesting read in which he strikes a fine balance between accurate and reliable history.
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