The Role Of Witchcraft In The 16th Century

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Often when someone thinks of a witch, they think of a green lady on a broom. However, witches in the 16th century were slightly different. Witches, portrayed in Shakespeare’s Macbeth are women always causing trouble. These women thrived off of causing chaos and plotting schemes. They would often have a familiar to accompany them or another witch. Shakespeare gives an excellent representation of how people imagined witches to be in the Elizabethan era by the trinity of witches seen in his famous tragedy, Macbeth. Commoners in the 16th century living in the country of England blamed anything bad that happened to them on witches; society did not trust witches and isolated women that practiced witchcraft from the rest of society. Their separation from society made witch hunts and trials very common during the time of King James’ rule. “Witch-trials were not cynically contrived to eliminate enemies…Deviants, including witches, would be rooted out (Gaskill 787)”. Gaskill says that witch trials were not always cynical. Witch hunts were not primarily created for eliminating offenders; witch hunts were more geared toward eliminating evil. Often time they would be used for moral cleansing like told by Elmer, “those advocating political renewal naturally assumed that any such change was likely to be accompanied by a bout of moral cleansing (Elmer 3)”. People recognized witchcraft as something of the devil and believed that it was an evil thing that could break the great Chain of

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