A brief overview (1368 words) of the Salem Witch Trials. Very informative.

Essay by ckoski02A, May 2003

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?Salem Witch Trials?

The Puritans were a group of Christian extremists living in Massachusetts in the seventeenth century. The Puritans were very set in their ways, traditions, and beliefs. The Puritans believed in witches, and their ability to do harm unto others. The Puritan definition of witchcraft was entering into an agreement with Satan in return for abilities to do evil. Thusly, the Puritans considered witchcraft a sin because it negated God's supreme authority and a punishable offense because said witch could summon the devil in its shape to perform evil.

The primary priest in Salem was Samuel Parris. Parris was married, and had one daughter, Betty, 9, but also cared for his orphaned niece, Abigail Williams who was 12. Rev. Parris forbid Betty and Abigail from playing games with other children, because he considered playing idleness, and idleness to be work of the devil. Because of these restrictions, the girls spent most of their free time reading.

A popular pastime during the winter months was to read. That winter, there was much interest in books about prophecy and fortune telling?things that were considered witchcraft. Such books were especially popular among adolescent girls, just like Betty and Abigail. In Essex County in particular, girls liked to form small circles to practice the fortune telling and other practices that they had learned.

Abigail and Betty formed such a circle. Reverend Parris' Carib slave, Tituba, would participate in the circle. When she did so, she often regaled stories of demons and mystic animals. Before long, other girls from the village to listen to her stories and tell their fortunes. However, Betty Parris and Abigail Williams soon began to be frightened and upset by the results of their fortunes. This, along with financial and social problems likely caused the girls to...