Essay on Historiography of the Salem Witch Trials

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The changing historiography of the Salem Witch Persecutions of 1692. How current/contemporary and historical interpretations of this event reflect the changing nature of historiography. The number of different interpretations of the Salem Witch Trials illustrates that historiography is ever changing. The historians, Hale, Starkey, Upham, Boyer and Nissenbaum, Caporal, Norton and Mattosian have all been fascinated by the trials in one way or another because they have all attempted to prove or disprove certain elements about the trials. By analysing their augments about the causes of the Salem Witch Crisis, it is evident that this historical event can be examined from a range of different perspectives and interpreted in a range of…show more content…
Currently the most widely accepted view is that the cause of the trials, was due to fraud and hysteria. It is rarely debated that it was the girl's diagnoses of being bewitched that was the catalyst for the trials so if it could be proved that the girls symptoms were fraudulent, then this could be easily be ascribed as the ‘cause' of the trials. Charles Upham introduce, ascribes the afflicted children the skills of sophisticated actresses and ventriloquists. The girls, after "long practice" Upham explains, "could go into fits and convulsions, swoon and fall to the floor, put their frames into strange contortions, bring blood to the face and send it back again"#. According to Upham the girls deceived everybody in therms of their ‘illness' leading to the crisis which it grew into. This interpretation, however, disregards the only true primary resource that exists in relation to the girls affliction, written by Hale in 1702. As stated above by Hale, the symptoms were "impossible to do so themselves". So this proposition is not actually backed with historical sources. Despite this, a number of more contemporary historians support Upham's historical position. Marion Starkey introduce claims that the girls were "no more seriously possessed than a pack of bobby-soxers on the loose"#. Starkey agrees with Upham and suggests that the girl's affliction were fraudulent as they craved the community's
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