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Salme Witch Trials

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Autor:   •  March 24, 2011  •  2,346 Words (10 Pages)  •  536 Views

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Intro

“Religion was not a department or phase of social life; it was the end and aim of all life; and to it, consequently, all institutions were subordinate.” For Salem, Massachusetts, religion ruled their lives. In 1692, innocent people were accused of witchcraft. Salem people were very conflicted. Their leaders dealt with their historical influences, the afflicted and the accused had many challenges to face, and that left the rest of the town to deal with the upcoming changes.

History

The term “Puritans” was created to insult a group of Protestants who did not believe that the English Reformation went far enough in reforming the Anglican Church in the 1500’s. The Puritans sought to “purify” the church by eradicating it of all traces of Catholic influence. According to the Puritans, the church still needed a more “direct personal religious experience, sincere moral conduct, and simple worship services.” It was also known that the Puritans believed that Christianity should be the main focus of human existence as they considered religion to be “a very complex, subtle, and highly intelligent affair.” All of their requests to make more intense changes (such as abolition of all bishops) were ignored by higher authorities, which caused the Puritans to feel repressed. This led these people to immigrate over to America, and leave their oppressive homes behind.

By the early 1700’s, many Puritans had traveled to New England to live in a colony of their own, away from the religious restrictions that had been pressed upon them before. They created a place called Salem Village, which seemed to isolate them from the rest of the world so that they could enjoy their newfound freedom. This appeared to be a place of freedom and fairness, but that simple, hope filled view would soon change as life continued in this Puritan town.

Puritan Beliefs

Church and town life were all the Puritans knew as their existence. Religion was by far the biggest part of Puritan society. The Salem Puritans thought that the Devil was as powerful as God and was just as willing to interfere with human affairs. They believed that the Devil sought out people that were considered weak, such as women, children, the elderly, and the sick. Since the Devil could affect people as God could, all Puritans believed in bewitchment. If you did not believe in bewitchment, then you were thought to be a witch and you were trying to protect yourself. As soon as people announced they did not believe that the afflicted were actually being afflicted by witches, they were abruptly accused. A person might as well claim to be an Atheist than admit they did not believe in the Devil’s power to afflict and bewitch.

Since church was such a big part of life, it directly affected the town’s people and their styles of life. Although Puritans followed the Bible very closely as it was their “guiding light”, donations to the church were very important. Even though the Bible clearly states, вЂ?give what you can afford to give’, the people who did not donate were accused of witchcraft. Another aspect of town life around the time was the two separate factions. The town was split between the pro-Parris and anti-Parris groups. Parris was the town’s pastor and as you might be able to tell, some supported him and others did not. The anti-Parris populace was victimized by the pro-Parris group as the pro-Parris group often accused the anti-Parris members of involvement with witchcraft. The town was also divided by a person’s status. Everyone was supposed to blend into the masses. This meant working hard no matter what your job was. People were also supposed to completely repress their emotions and personal opinions. Being opinionated was one way to draw attention to one’s self, which would cause one to be accused. Another main rule of blending in is to not look or sound different. Everyone dressed in dark colors, mostly in black as to not draw attention to themselves with flashy or vibrant colors. Also, a person’s ways of talking was watched closely. For example teens nowadays use slang terms like "oh pits" if something doesn't go their way. If people in Salem used words that were considered blasphemous to the church or towards other people, I can safely say that they would be accused. As you can see, things as minuscule as dialect and church donations can affect a persons chance of being accused.

The Afflicted

In the witch trials, the people who accused others of being witches were known as the afflicted. In the Salem Witch Trials there were about 43 of these afflicted with Ann Putnam leading as the most well-known accuser. It has been said that Ann and a group of her close friends who were known as the “Circle Girls”, started the Salem Witch Trials.

They first said they were victims of witchcraft when they started to behave oddly because of whatever witchcraft had begun to possess them. Some of this odd behavior included babbling, convulsing, and blank stares. Soon after these strange behaviors occurred, the Circle Girls began to accuse people living in Salem Village of the witchcraft that had been harming them. Many times the villagers were shocked at who was being accused; a few of the people were very important in the community. Often, there was no evidence to support their accusations, but the accused were still imprisoned.

By the time the Salem Witch Trials were over, Ann and her Circle Girls had accused about 62 people. Not long after the trials ended, Ann lost both of her parents. This led to her having to raise her nine brothers and sisters by herself. Some people believed she deserved it for all the trouble she had caused the people of Salem Village. In 1706, Ann wrote a letter apologizing for what she had done and the pastor of the church in Salem read the letter aloud to the congregation. Ann Putnam is the only afflicted person to ever apologize for what she had done.

Victim 1

One of the victims accused of witchcraft by the Puritans was a woman named Sarah Good. Sarah's childhood was cut short when her father died when she was only 17. Sarah was left with no money and no family. She eventually got married to William Good. They were held responsible to pay past debts, which led them to sell their land and become homeless.

When Sarah became homeless, it changed the woman that she was. Sarah requested

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