Analysis Of The Book ' The Devil On The Shape Of A Woman ' By Carol Karlsen Essay

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Conversely, Carol Karlsen who was a Professor of History and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan had a different take on the trials. Karlsen wrote The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England in 1987, a book examining the role of women in the Salem Witch Trials. Karlsen was “concerned with the meaning of witchcraft for New England’s first settlers… and why most witches in early American society were women.” Karlsen obviously felt that there was a disparity of the female perspective in the previous Salem interpretations. She focused on the social and economic roles women held and as a result were targeted. In Karlsen’s preface, she introduced how witchcraft has become ingrained in the American mind with immense interest. Karlsen emphasized that “the fascination with witchcraft is perhaps especially pronounced in the United State, where its most dramatic episode took place too late, and among too educated a populace, for us to dismiss it as mere ‘superstition.’ The word [witchcraft] itself evokes images so diverse, ultimately so contradictory, as to defy definition. It is associated with old age, frightful ugliness, and female wickedness on the one hand, with youth beauty, and female sexual power on the other.” Through her research, Karlsen theorized that misogyny and prejudice against women of a certain age, wealth, and temperament provided a pattern of accusation and execution. What Karlsen did better than her predecessors was to

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