It is often difficult to understand the thought process that other people’s might have had many years ago. A college professor and writer, Richard Godbeer attempts to explain the thought process of the people who were involved in witch trials in the year 1692 in his text “How Could They Believe That?”. He often tells students in college and high school that we can relate to how society was in 1692 and how their views on life, and specifically the supernatural forces, are completely justifiable. In this article he explains the social atmosphere, the environment in which the settlers lived in, as well as how thorough the process of persecution was.
In early 1692 Salem village, Massachusetts began to experience strange occurrences among their residents. Victims suffered from strange mental and physical illnesses. The randomness of the victims, and their unusual symptoms, led residents to suspect a supernatural explanation. These suspicions eventually led to the infamous Salem Witch Trials. Past historians have concentrated their research on the accused, while Laurie Winn Carlson focuses on the afflicted in her novel, A Fever in Salem: A New Interpretation of the New England Witch Trials. Carlson offers an innovative, knowledgeable explanation of witchcraft’s link to organic illness. She focuses on the physical symptoms of “possession”, which can include convulsion, hallucinations, distorted language and paralysis; which are all congruent with the symptoms of encephalitis lethargica. Carlson expertly supports her case with accounts of Puritan religious and medical beliefs, histories of witchcraft and mental illness, scientific studies of plagues, colonial diaries and court records to those of the encephalitis lethargica epidemic in the early twentieth century. In eight chapters, Carlson convincingly argues that the victims suffered encephalitis lethargica and offers persuasive evidence for organic explanations of other witchcraft victims throughout New England. A Fever in Salem is a stimulating understanding of one of America’s most unusual moments and offers a retreat from the Freudian, Marxist, feminist, and
While spring is a time for growth, newlife, and awakening, in the spring of 1692 a rotten presence (both figuratively and literally) swept over Salem Village, Massachusetts when a group of young girls claimed to be possessed by the devil and accused several local women of witchcraft. Not only was this the spark of a religious uproar in the quaint, puritan town; but a spark that lit the match which eventually convicted over a hundred innocent people and claimed 20 lives. While the true pain of these trials cannot be seen in photographs or videos, it can be experienced through the words that have been written. In Marilynne Roach’s novel, “Six Women of Salem”, she tells the untold story of six women who underwent the grueling Salem witchcraft trials, and she evoked a strong sense of empathy for the victims through her use of first person narratives and factual evidence. Through these devices Roach successfully highlighted the twisted, prejudice, and uneducated society that America was, and, in some ways, still is today.
Many people are aware of the witch hunt that occurred in Salem, Massachusetts in the year 1692, however these same people may not be as familiar with the other witch hunt that also occurred in New England during the same year. Escaping Salem: the other witch hunt of 1692, written by Richard Godbeer, is a historical monograph that reconstructs the, mostly unheard-of witch hunt, that occurred in Stamford, Connecticut. The book also gives its readers insight into the minds of early American citizens. Thus, the theme of Escaping Salem, beside witchcraft, is human nature and Richard Godbeer’s thesis is that humans demonize others before recognizing their own share of human frailty. It is evident that he is biased toward the witches and sympathizes with them. This, of course, is not surprising since they were irrationally punished because of their neighbours unsubstantiated accusations. Richard Godbeer is currently a Professor of History at the University of Miami, who offers courses on a broad range of topics, including sex and gender in early America, witchcraft in colonial New England, religious culture in early America, and the American Revolution. He is also the author of 11 other historical monographs.
In conclusion the Salem Witch Trials were a tragedy that would have never happened if it weren’t for one doctor that diagnosed two girls with bewitchment. The main causes were anger, fits, and
The hysteria, craze, trials, and deaths, still rest an unsolved case. The theories of politics, rivalries, religion and the “circle girls” seem the most believable, in my eyes. However, as the happenings in Salem village still continue to mislead and amaze not only historians, but many others, the witch trials lie a great turning point for Salem, and the lives of many; let alone
In 1692, the British colony of Massachusetts endured abnormal accusations of witchcraft against more than 150 people (Prentice Hall Literature, p. 1087). Many factors caused the witchcraft hysteria to come alive during the 1600’s. Two important factors were: Daemonologie, written by England’s King James I, and the bewildering behavior of the accusing teenage girls. While Arthur Miller explains that the accusations could have been made over the lust for land, there are also reasons not explained: how the role of women and children during the 17th century may have affected their behavior and the theory of Ergot fungus poisoning the girls’ minds.
The outbreak of witchcraft accusations of 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts was a devastating period for those involved in the crisis. Because of the random and frequent witchcraft accusations made throughout the time of the trials, the reoccurring characteristics that were often indicative of an individual’s likelihood of being accused of witchcraft were not always consistent. In John Demos’s book Entertaining Satan: Witchcraft and the Culture of Early New England he includes a diagram containing nine points of what he believes to be the definitive characteristics of a “typical” witch during the Salem witchcraft trials. It is important to note that Demos’s portrait of a witch identifies the “typical” witch, not every witch. For
The novel Conversion by Katherine Howe, published in 2014, is an incredibly gripping teen mystery that includes suspense, satire, and sadness all at once. The story centers around an all girls private school and its eerie similarity to the female hysteria during the colonial Salem witch trials. Howe, a descendent of three of the women accused of witchcraft during these trials, was interested in the topic of this time period and sought out to find a reasoning behind the accusations made upon the women. The novel varies its chapters and the timeline of the story between those set in the current time of 2012 and others taking place back in 1706. With these chapters switching back and forth, readers begin to notice the strange resemblance of the
First, she denounces the theory of Salem Village accusing Salem Town in court for witchcraft due to jealousy because it does not “explain the many physical symptoms or who experienced them”. Next, the theory of men trying to be dominant over women is denounced since it contradicts the action of “‘large numbers of men … [being] accused and executed on similar charges’” (Carlson, 81). Also, the theory of ergot, a fungus that appears on rye crops, food poisoning people in Salem, which made them hallucinate, is quickly rejected by two psychologists, Nicholas Spans and Jack Gottlieb. The reason is it does not “explain why…families who ate from the same source of grain were not affected. And infants were afflicted who may not have been eating bread grains”(Carlson, 84). By denouncing numerous Salem witch trails theories, Carlson gains more creditability to her own
There isn't anything I despise more than a bunch of news reporters coming to me. Therefore, I need to speak up about my dear old friend Mickey. He was a lively fellow. But that all came to an end, you see. The poor dear was murdered because he just couldn’t stop blabbering on and on about Mt. St. Helens.
Before the earth was,as we know it, it was a great fiery orb, Mandrilikar, and in the centre of it was Centramalum, which imprisoned four great beings. They were desperate to break out, so they had been smashing their bodies against the walls, days and nights in attempts to escape. On the surface, this created mountains and volcanoes. The strongest of the beings, Isia, finally slammed her shoulder against the wall so hard that it broke through to the surface in a great volcanic eruption, and the four beings sprang out. The volcano she had created was named Mount Thumos. At the current time, there was no life on the planet except for them, as they were born from Centramalum itself. They agreed to divide up the world into quarters; Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, thus each god would have their own domain. Petrus claimed the northeast
It’s a Monday morning, during October, in New York City, the sky is clear and it is perfect jacket weather. As the birds begin their songs; a group of school girls takes a stroll through the park led by their teacher. They begin their walk greeting everyone they see with a smile. As they sit on an open grassy area, filled with plenty of crunchy leaves. They take a moment to observe all that is happening in the park. The girls see old men sitting at chess tables about to begin their game, children piling up dead leaves and hurling themselves in the piles, and couples preparing lovely morning picnics. After a while, one girl gets a whiff of something peculiar from the right side of the school group. Turning to the side, the class spots a middle-aged business woman who has decided that five feet downwind from a group of young girls was the right
In conversation with some friends today I found out that the Accelerated Junior Literature classes are reading The Crucible and attending a trip to Salem, Massachusetts in October. I know that we've only known each other for a short period of time and that you have too many students to remember who I am and what my childish wishes are, but there is something I want you to know. I've had a lot of interests in my life but one that has stuck since I was four years old, and that is my infatuation with witchcraft, its history, and its place in modern society. Since the beginning of my interest, I have wished to go to Salem and to take on all that it has to offer about one of the most confusing witch trials in American history. I am willing
It had been a long winter night when I sighed and rang the door bell. I knew her husband would be working late,and I was always accepted in open arms before. Standing there in a pair of tights and a T-shirt eight sizes to big I had the time while I awaited to her to answer,that I probably look thrown away.When she had open the door I was nearly scooped up. In heels she felt at least two foot above me,witch was correct. Though she wasn't blood related she was the woman I idolized and referred to as my aunt,as far as my hazed corrupted mind was concerned,she was just that. Demonia sighed scolding me about not wearing anything to shield me from the chill of the weather.My cheeks were flushed,and chilled to the touch,along with my hands and feet.