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The Salem Witch Trials Essay

1693 words - 7 pages

Before 1692, the supernatural was a part of people’s everyday normal life. This is so as people strongly believed that Satan was present and active on earth. Men and women in Salem Village believed that all the misfortunes that befell them were the work of the devil. For example, when things like infant death, crop failures or friction among the congregation occurred, people were quick to blame the supernatural. This concept first emerged in Europe around the fifteenth century and then spread to Colonial America. Formerly, peasants heavily relied on particular charms for farming and agriculture. But, over time, white magic transformed into dark magic and it became associated with evil. Even though the people of Salem believed that Satan walked among men on earth, colonial life was relatively calm. However there was a series of events that eventually led to the “hanging of nineteen of the accused, fourteen women and five men” ; these events are known as the Salem Witch Trials.
“The Salem Witch Trials happened between February of 1692 and May of 1693 in Essex, Suffolk, and Middlesex counties of colonial Massachusetts. They consisted of a series of hearings and trials that were brought before the local magistrate in order to prosecute people accused of witchcraft. More than 150 people were accused and arrested of practicing witchcraft and there were even more accused that were not actually pursued by the authorities.” However, some sources claim that during the Salem witch-hunt more than 200 people were arrested as witches , nineteen of them were hung and one man over eighty years of age was pressed to death for refusing to submit to a trial on charges of witchcraft.
The seeds of the hysteria that afflicted Salem Village, Massachusetts were sown in January 1692 when “a group of young girls began to display bizarre behavior; delirium, violent convulsions, unintelligible speech, trance-like states, and strange skin sensations.” The hysterical accusations of two of the young girls, Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam, were what started off a witch-hunt in the New England village. The residents of Salem Village were desperate for an explanation. If the source of the affliction was not attributable to a physical malady, the community reasoned that it must be the work of Satan and so the finger pointing toward witchcraft started. Of all the executed, none confessed to the use of witchcraft, as they believed it would condemn their soul. “Everyone was so frightened that the unlucky prisoners could not hope for a fair trial.” Even though it was not solid evidence, “the hysterical ravings of the ‘bewitched’ girls were accepted as testimony.” During the later trials where none of the suspects were punished, dispute broke out over whether or not there had ever been any witchcraft in the community in the first place. It is highly possible that Abigail Williams and Ann Putnam could have been falsely creating their accusations and imitating the strange...

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