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The Salem Witch Trials Essay

981 words - 4 pages

In the year 1692, many important events occurred; Aesop’s Fables, a certain form of calculator, but may be most notably known are the Salem Witch Trials. There are multiple factors that are thought to be cause to the infamous Trials, yet religion plays a strongly dominant role amongst the plethora of reasons. The events of Salem Village affected the colonies immediately following the trials, yet they had a lasting influence on the development of the ideals of the United States.
The mass hysteria that accompanied the accusations in 1692 had been seen before in Europe, but it was fresh to America. Witchcraft and trials in Europe had preceded the events in the New World by over 300 years. According to Exodus, “Thou shall not tolerate a witch to live.” This gave Pope Gregory IX grounds to impose an inquisition in 1231 to punish heresy, and Pope Innocent declared witchcraft as an act of heresy. Accusing an individual of Witchcraft was often seen as a tool to get rid of one’s enemies; the community would purge itself. The catch to this act was that concrete evidence must be provided; as addressed later, concrete evidence eventually fell away from trials. It was often said that torture was good for confession and this was justified by the law because witchcraft offended the church and the state. Not only was witchcraft an act of heresy, it was an act of treason.
The text Malleus Maleficarum was one of the best known witch-hunt manuals. The manual consists of 35 “questions” (chapters) that describe what to be done in the cases of witchcraft. The book specified rules of evidence and court procedures for torturing and putting a witch to death. One infamous reason mentioned in the book as grounds for accusing an individual as a witch was the Devil’s Mark. This so called Mark of the Devil was often enough just a strange birthmark. A ritual way of testing this mark was to prod it with a pin; if there was no pain or no blood, then it was a Witches Mark.
Some see the Witch Trials as originating from an event occurring in 1688. A young woman by the name of Martha Goodwin began to exhibit strange behavior and soon after her siblings demonstrate the same odd behavior. Martha Goodwin had argued with the laundress Goody Glover. Goody Glover was arrested for “bewitching” the Goodwin children. Glover meets with a local reverend who tries to convince her to be penitent for her witchcraft; yet she is later hanged for her actions. Martha Goodwin continues to have strange behavior that is unexplainable and alleges that it is due to Goody Glover. Yet this is barely the beginning.
Elizabeth Parris is the daughter of the new reverend of Salem. She is taken care of by an Indian slave by the name of Tituba. Tituba cares for young Elizabeth and her cousin, and eventually more girls; she begins to show them examples of “voo doo” or more than likely, things she had learned in her home...

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