Reis, Elizabeth.Damned Women: Sinners And Witches In Puritan

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Reis, Elizabeth. Damned Women: Sinners and Witches in Puritan New England. Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1997.

Thesis: Reis argues that through reading about the colonial Puritan 's conception of sin and Satan, readers will expand their "cultural and historical understanding of how people act on their religious belief...and how those religiously informed actions both reflect and prescribe their own particular gender arrangements, often to the detriment of women (10)." In short, women were negatively affected by the Puritan belief system when it came to witchcraft because of the gendered ideals of the colonial era in America.

Themes: One of the first themes that appears in the text is fear. Fear was a driving force in
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Within the Puritan world, the Bible (God 's book) is present; during the witchcraft trials, the Devil 's book becomes just as prevalent in discussions. During these witchcraft trials, good cannot present without evil, man without woman, God without Satan. In one of the later chapters of the text, Reis discusses an upsurge in women joining convents., but within that same timeframe, there was an upsurge in witch accusations, for every new nun, there was a new witch. A theme that is apparent throughout the text is gender/gender roles. Reis places a lot of emphasis on the idea of the "feminine soul." Her third and fourth chapters discuss the role of gender with confessions and trials during the witchcraft era. On page 122 of the text, Reis discusses how women 's evidence tended to be spectral while men placed more emphasis on physical/tangible evidence such as sick cows producing rancid milk. The devil even differentiated how he took dominion over women and men: women tended to claim harm to themselves, while men claimed harm to their property (117). These gendered ideas even spread past the earth when one considers how Reis argues for God and Satan acting as masculine warriors fighting for the "feminine" souls of humans (106).

Evidentiary Base: Much of where Reis gets her information comes from primary sources. She utilizes the Salem Witchcraft Papers heavily throughout her text. She is also very much reliant

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