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Carol Karlsen 's The Devil

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June 22, 2015
Carol Karlsen 's "The Devil in the Shape of a Woman” Carol Karlsen 's "The Devil in the Shape of a Woman” was written to provide the reader with an understanding of the role of the “witch” in colonial New England. During the early colonial period, pilgrims lived in a male-dominated society and the classical witch hunts were conducted in an attempt to maintain this societal structure. Since these hunts were placed under a religious guise, it was simple for these individuals to act as if they were maintaining the safety and justice of society. Karlsen explains that in many instances, women who were labelled as witches were often females that had managed to acquire great economic and social status and society. In fear of these women, the neighborhood targeted them and called them witches to weaken their power. Independent of guilt, women who were accused of witchcraft could not possibly recovered. If they claimed their innocence, they would be stoned or burned to death because the counsel would decide that they were not being truthful. If they admitted to their guilt, their place in society would be marred and they would be embarrassed for partaking in these evil acts. Through this violence, men have been able to maintain their place in Puritan society. In her book, Karlsen aims to provide the reader new insight into the witch trials, demonstrating the societal, rather than religious causes for this well-known historic tragedy. Karlsen
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