historiographical essay on salem witch trials

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Historiographical essay on salem witch trials book report war world

Historiographical essay on salem witch trials


After analyzing several works it seems the witch hunts in New England, especially those in Salem, also need to be tied back to Europe. In the end, an emphasis on the connections that permeated the greater transatlantic region will help to cast a new light on the witchcraft accusations of the early modern world.

Pioneered by American scholar G. In addition to identifying community relations as an explanation for witch-hunts, Kittredge also examines how witch hunts in England were different from those on the continent. Why was England different? While these beliefs were exacerbated in times of political unrest, the common people initiated witch-hunts by projecting their fears onto the local deviant. Historians Keith Thomas and Alan Macfarlane also look at witchcraft trails as a bottom-up process in their social histories of English witch hunts.

Instead, they contend that witch hunts arose from interpersonal tensions within local communities. As a result of socioeconomic changes, such as population increases, the socioeconomic divides among villagers became more stringent.

The works of Thomas and Macfarlane created a major shift in scholarly interpretations of witchcraft as a social phenomenon. Yet, their works have not gone without criticisms. As Sharpe notes, the German mass-trails of the early seventeenth century were not the typical continental situation. Instead, the English pattern of low intensity witch trials and isolated accusations against an individual witch or small groups was actually more typical of many European regions.

Developing a socioeconomic model for the witchcraft trials of Salem, Boyer and Nissenbaum utilize a variety of sources such as tax lists, church records, residential patterns, village elections, and sermons. Boyer and Nissenbaum describe the crisis as a result of mounting tensions between the increasingly commercialized market economy of Salem Town and the more traditional agrarian economy of Salem Village. Unlike other instances of witchcraft accusations, which were typically aimed at poor, older women, the accused of Salem frequently crossed gender lines and often incorporated highly respectable members of the community.

In their analysis, Boyer and Nissenbaum separate Salem into two factions: the pro-Parris faction or those in favor of the Salem village minister and the anti-Parris group. The former consisted of supporters of the trials while the latter consisted of trial critics and those who fell amongst the accused.

The linkage is suggestive to say the least. While Carol Karlsen also looks at the witchcraft hunts of New England, she utilizes a gender analysis to understand the phenomenon. But, as Karlsen further explicates, these women also lived in a patriarchal culture that resisted the notion of economically independent women.

Elizabeth Reis also brings a gender analysis to bear on the witchcraft trials of New England. However, Reis focuses on the connections between the gender attitudes found in New England and Europe. Mary Beth Norton also moves the discussion of witchcraft cases outward, yet she focuses on the greater colonial context for the Salem witch trials. Thus the term Salem witchcraft crisis is a misnomer; Essex County witchcraft crisis would be more accurate. For Norton, the events in Essex County were not a unified expanding process, instead she argues that the events occurred in two major stages.

During the first stage, she contends that the accusations occurred mostly in Salem Village and resembled earlier accusations of witchcraft. For instance, the accusations were few, local, and aimed mostly at older women. After a controversial time living in Salem, Burroughs moved northeast to the frontier settlement of Falmouth, where Norton argues he must have known Abigail Hobbs and another accuser, Mercy Lewis.

When the Salem magistrates prosecuted the former minister, the floodgates opened, as disgruntled and frightened settlers now had an outlet to unleash their frustration. Rather than painting political or socioeconomic changes as being the main causes of the witchcraft hysteria, Norton looks to the cultural clashes that permeated Essex country, New England.

During the brutal First and Second Indian Wars, Norton contends, the boundaries between civilized versus uncivilized, Godly versus ungodly, became increasingly blurred. And, this crisis of identity produced the witchcraft accusations. While Norton stresses the exceptional nature of Salem, Sarah Rivett advocates a more inclusive approach to the subject. Hence, American witch hunts have been tied down by modernization narratives that espouse a view of America as exceptionally forward.

What would happen, Rivett questions, if the subject of Salem were moved away from this structured analysis? Witchcraft has a long history in the roots of folk magic of having protecting and destroying affairs. According to the documentary Folk Magic claims the devil would use women, children and occasionally men to do his biddings.

The witchcraft trials in Salem were remarkable, mainly for the numbers involved. Before the witchcraft hysteria was over the girls had pointed the finger at hundreds of supposed witches, not only in Salem but also in places far apart such as Andover and Charleston. They even accused people they did not know e. A series of events occurred leading up to, and during the Salem Witch Trials making the situation far detrimental than it should have been. Salem, Massachusetts became the main focus in when over one hundred people were falsely accused of practicing witchcraft.

Twenty were executed by being hanged, one by being pressed, and one-hundred and fifty-six jailed. Women played a big role in the trials. Most of them were the accusers, and the unlucky ones were the accused. What is astounding is that although Betty and Abigail were the ones that were possibly sick, many others played along and accused people. Together, they accused almost people of be Also, the prison areas were cramped, so diseases were rampant.

Fifty-nine were tried, thirty—one convicted, and nineteen hanged Foulds vi-vii. The over one-hundred and fifty accused in were from all backgrounds, ages and genders. After giving one of his spirited sermons, Betty and her cousin Abigail Williams, began to act strangely. Open Document. Essay Sample Check Writing Quality.

The accusations caused a wave of mass hysteria throughout colonial Massachusetts. Most of the accused persons faced imprisonment, while others lost property and legal rights. A special court convened in Salem to hear the cases, leading to the execution of twenty people, most of them women, and two dogs. The court first convicted Bridget Bishop and sent her to death by hanging on June 10, Eighteen …show more content… All Salem witchcraft events ended in April when officials released the remaining victims from jail.

Although the Massachusetts General Court later annulled guilty verdicts against accused witches and compensated the families of those convicted, bitterness lingered in the community; many historians view the trials as synonymous with paranoia and scapegoating. The events that took place in Salem in hold historical significance because they depict the economic hardship, racial perceptions, religious oppression, and gender roles in the late seventeenth century New …show more content… Although Salem Town depended on the farmers of Salem Village for food, it held economic power over the village by determining crop prices and collecting taxes.

Additionally, the absence of a Puritan meeting house in Salem Village forced its residents to walk three hours to attend worship services in Salem Town until the men of the Village elected their five-man leadership committee, began plans for their own meeting house, and hired their first minister in Although the people of Salem Village won this small victory, many residents began to resent the power that Salem Town held over them, and they sought greater freedoms and authority regarding their personal interests.

Salem Village eventually petitioned for their independence, and a dangerous wedge formed between the two communities when the Town. Get Access. Satisfactory Essays. Salem Witch Trials Words 2 Pages. Salem Witch Trials.

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So why are the Salem Witch Trials so significant? It has been differentiated from other outbreaks of witchcraft because, unlike other witchcraft events, the authorities had given the accusers their full support rather then opposing them. This uniqueness has fascinated historians leading to hundreds of different explanations of the trials. It seems that members of nearly every major school of historical analysis have attempted to explain the trials, from Freudian scholars, who posit mass hysteria to Marxists class conflict over property , from Feminists who argue about the unfair treatment of women , to more ecologically minded historians who focus on a hallucinogenic ergot fungus on grain.

But the main academic interpretations of Salem can be loosely divided into three basic approaches: anthropological, social and economical, and psychological interpretations. Despite these different viewpoints, they are in some sense united in their attempts to outline the inherent flaws within the different aspects within the community. Currently the most widely accepted view is that the cause of the trials, was due to fraud and hysteria.

Charles Upham introduce, ascribes the afflicted children the skills of sophisticated actresses and ventriloquists. Historiography of the Salem Witch Trials. Accessed 11, In this case, they believed that Satan was active and present on earth thereby having an influence on their daily lives. The concept of the presence of Satan emerged in the fifteen century and later on spread to other parts of America.

As much as there was a different perception to witchcraft, it was only used by peasants. In this case, they relied upon it for agriculture and farming by using particular charms that they considered effective and efficient. This form of witchcraft was mainly referred to as white magic but it later on transformed to dark magic as time went by.

This therefore implies that dark magic was characterized and associated with evil spirits and demons. As time went by, there were a lot of superstitions that were believed to be related to the devil. This is the period that saw a lot of witchcraft persecutions taking place.

There was a claim by different people that they could prove the existence of evil spirits and demons which tried to reinforce a strong believe in superstition. This was mostly by Joseph Glanvill in , whereby he tried to explain the aspect of bodily resurrection Weisman In fact, this was the period when we had a lot of issues about supernatural spirits.

There was an argument that men should be able to believe in the existence of evil spirits because if they denied such a reality, then they were questioning the reality of the almighty God. In fact, ingenious men were expected to admit the existence of apparitions and witches. All this aspects implied that the supernatural world can not be denied which relates well with the Salem witch trials.

Such works therefore tried to reinforce the fact that demons were indeed alive. As time went by, human beings were meant to believe that demons were part of them on earth based on different happenings and events. The people of Salem believed that all their predicaments were as a result of the devil and evil spirits.

In fact, they could not explain their misfortunes like infant deaths and failure of crops. In other cases, there was friction among the congregation where the supernatural world was blamed. There was an unusual outbreak of witchcraft issues and accusations and this ended up reinforcing the need for trials.

All this can be considered as contributing factors in relation to different aspects from a historical context. There were earlier executions in England where it is estimated that 12 people were killed Aronson It should be known that there is a political context to the Salem witch trials because of the tension that had arisen between colonialists. As much as there was need to sort out governor issues, it was necessary to come up with a legitimate court system that could conduct trials.

This is what led to the formation of a special court of Oyer and Terminer that could handle people who had been thronging the courts for justice Aronson From a local context point of view, Salem village was synonymous with disputes between its village and town populations.

In fact, the population was mostly regarded to be quarrelsome by its neighbors. Because of constant bickering among villagers, there were bound to be numerous conflicts in the Salem. Before , there had been rumors of witchcraft in other towns and villages that mostly neighbored Salem Aronson The development of casting spells began after many children started experiencing strange fits.

This was mostly referred to as the disease of astonishment which was quickly associated with witchcraft by the population as time went by. The children had unique symptoms that had never been seen before which again fuelled the speculation of witchcraft among the population. For instance, flapping of arms had never been witnessed and some of the children went to the extent of harming others.

It should therefore be known that these are issues that fuelled the craze against witchcraft in The most notable trials can be explained from the afflictions of different girls that occurred in early Aronson This account ends with trials that were conducted in May Some of the trials can be traced from initial witch hunts that had started earlier on which can be looked at from a wider context. There has been information about restitution as far as these trials are concerned which needs proper evaluation.

All this accounts can be traced from two girls Betty and Abigail who exhibited strange symptoms that could not be proved by a medical doctor. For instance, they complained of being pricked and pinched by people whom they did not see and this behavior later on spread to other young women.

These events led to the first trial of three people which implores that a family feud might have been behind all these trials. Salem can be described as the home of a vicious rivalry that led to the famous witch trials because everybody was involved in one way or the other. This can be traced from heated debates that could even lead to fighting among different people.

Most of these women who were accused had the descriptions of usual suspects who could fit as witchcrafts. Nobody stood for the women which culminated to them being brought before a local magistrate. Many other trials followed these ones as instances of witchcraft continued to be reported in Salem and its environs.

As much as the last notable trials were conducted in , public response to most of these events has continued as time goes by Hill Most of these issues have revolved around establishing the innocence of the accused individuals because they are supposed to be compensated. The descendants of people who were unfairly accused have been trying to honor their memories which are good developments. A seed of paranoia had been planted in Salem which explains the sequence of events that followed as far as witchcraft persecutions are concerned.

The story of Salem witchcraft trials has captured the attention of different stakeholders like artists and writers despite the fact that these events happened centuries of years ago. In this case, different aspects have taken liberties from distinct interpretations that have been explored Hill The events that happened before have helped to reinforce the fact that there is a boundary between post-medieval and medieval aspects that relate to different cultural constructions.

It should occur that the cause of different symptoms that were encountered at that given time will continue being a subject of interest. This is because explanations of those symptoms have been explored by different researchers to explain diverse occurrences that we are witnessing today. The world has seen some attacks on people because they are considered to poses supernatural powers which reinforces the fact that such issues will continue being witnessed every now and then.