Trouble Brewing In Salem Essay

1648 words - 7 pages

The Salem Witch Trials, a series of horrifying events that occurred over 300 years ago, comprise one of the darkest chapters of American History. They began as two Salem girls lit the spark for a wildfire of hysteria and confusion that would consume the innocence of Salem Village. A year and twenty needless deaths later, the trials were put to a sudden stop. In addition, many theories behind the horror relate to events still taking place in the world today. Although this American tragedy occurred hundreds of years ago, the underlying reasons are still not fully understood.
The history of the trials began in the New England village of Salem, Massachusetts, late 1692.Two young girls, bored with their restrictive lifestyle and repressive routines, became interested in the folksy customs of Tituba, the family’s black slave. The malignant phenomenon began with Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, the daughter and niece local Puritan minister Samuel Parris'. At first Tituba, the family's black slave, introduced the girls to simple spells and tricks (Starkey 30). As news spread to the village girls about the unfamiliar excitement, a major contrast to the boredom and humdrum of village life, Tituba’s audience numbers began to swell (31). Betty and Abigail decided to try an old fortune telling trick of breaking an egg in a glass of water to discover the occupation of their future husbands. Despite the seeming innocence of the trick, Abigail’s egg formed a coffin shape and both girls, frightened by the haunting results, began thrashing and having hysterical fits. More girls, including Ann Putnam (12) and Elizabeth Hubbard (17), began falling ill, having fits, hiding, and chanting. Suspicions of witchcraft and evil immediately arose. As more girls began “falling ill”, local men, lead by Thomas and Edward Putnam began accusing local women of bewitching the curious children (Norton 24). Putnam first accused Sarah Goode, Sarah Osborne, and the Parris’ slave Tituba of beguiling the girls into associating with the devil and injuring them, resulting in their unpredictable fits. Sarah Goode pled innocent and instead accused Sarah Osborne of the heinous deeds (26). Osborne told of strange voices and visions, but never actually confessed to any of the crimes she was being tried for (27). Tituba, however, claimed she never harmed the girls, but that she was approached by the Devil, disguised as a man whom asked for her service. She additionally saw Goode and Osborne in the Devil’s book and suddenly became “blind” when asked to identify the girls’ tormentor (28). All three suspects were tried three additional times before being taken to Boston to await formal hearing (Rice 42). Although the very first Witch Trials of Salem Village were over, the tragedy was just beginning.
As more accusations arose, so did arrests, confessions, and executions, which continued on for more than a year in the Puritan village before coming to a sudden halt. Due the arrest of the three...

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