Salem Possessed By Paul Boyer And Stephen Nissenbaum

1416 Words6 Pages
The Salem Witch trials were more than just accusations and women being sentenced to death. Politics, social status, and way of living back then all played essential roles in the trials which are discussed throughout the book “Salem Possessed” by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum. The authors touch upon how social status of church members, farmers and community folk impacted who was accused of witchcraft and who was sentenced to death. While times have changed and the laws regarding imprisonment are very different, it is essential to remember that while the techniques and methods used during the witch trials were common back then and just their way of life. Salem Village was facing a wide variety of governmental and economical problems,…show more content…
The authors discredit the claim that the witch trials were merely an excuse to eliminate the poor. In fact, the witch accusations, while they did begin with less wealthy members of the community, made their way to the top of the social ladder effecting members of the church and government. The majority of accusations were of women and girls, but once a female member of a family was accused it was common for other members of that family to be accused too regardless of their sex. Looking at the patters of the accusations, it becomes clear to the reader that all social classes were involved. From the early stages of accusations, the “fist three women accused could be seen as “deviants” or “outcasts” in their community” (31) which later spread to ministers, people of all ages, and both genders. Ministers however took a different approach to the accusations. Instead of being afraid of being put on trial, they viewed their accusation as a sign from God to help heal others. “By encouraging and even exploiting the usual behavior of the young people in their communities, both ministers had managed to turn a potentially damaging situation to their own benefit” (29). Although exploiting many people. the ministers were the only group who tried to see a light in the witch trials situation. Many members of the community lived in fear of being
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