Salem Witchcraft Trials
The Salem Witchcraft Trials occurred because of the depth of Salem
Puritans' belief in witchcraft and the devil.
The Salem Witchcraft trials started in 1692 resulting in 19 executions
and 150 accusations of witchcraft. This was the biggest outbreak of
witchcraft hysteria in colonial New England. The trials began because
three young girls, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam began
having hysterical fits, convulsions and terrifying visions after being
caught engaging in forbidden fortune telling. The doctors couldn't
diagnose the condition, so the puritans termed it as supernatural or
witchcraft. People in Salem started believing in gossip, rumors,
intangible and spectral evidence given by villagers to accuse witches.
They had a blind faith in god and believed that god punishes the
sinners. The main reason for the trials was superstition, an
irrational belief resulting from ignorance or fear of the unknown.
Church ruled the puritan society in New England. Most people in
Massachusetts were strict Puritans. They wanted to establish - "City
upon a hill", a model society for the world to follow. They believed
in building a community, which respects the vision of God. It was
against the law not to attend church. The Puritan lifestyle was
restrained; rigid and believed that all sins are punishable by threat,
exile or execution. They also believed the Devil was as real as God.
Satan would select the weakest individuals-women, children and the
insane to carry out his work and those who followed him were witches.
There was a lack of logical and scientific reasoning. Reverend Samuel
Parris quotes in his sermon that there are devils as well as saints
in the church and the sinners would be punished by the wrath of god.
The first women to be accused of witchcraft in Salem were seen as
different and as social outcasts: Tituba, a slave; Sarah Good, a
homeless beggar; and Sarah Osborne, a sickly old woman who married her
servant. These women were unpopular and it was easy to point fingers
at them. Gossips and rumors were enough to accuse them.
Tituba was a dark skinned slave who lived in the household of the
Reverend Samuel Parris. She was familiar with the West Indian Voodoo
and practicing magic. In the evenings Tituba entertained little Betty
and her cousin Abigail Williams by the kitchen fire. She played
fortune-telling games and told them stories of magic and spirits from
the Caribbean. Tituba was pointed out by the three girls and accused
of teaching them witchcraft and fortune telling, which resulted in
their strange behavior. Tituba did not deny the allegations. She
confessed to being a witch after Reverend Parris beat her....