The Salem Witch Trials

Essay by Crash8181High School, 12th grade March 2005

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The Salem Witch Trials are a series of trials to convict accused witches in the community of Salem, Massachusetts in the late 17th century. There are many causes of these trials.

The setting and time period of these trials must be considered when studying the causes of the Salem Witch Trials. Salem was a religious town in Puritan Massachusetts at the time of the trials. Puritan lifestyle is very strict leaves little room for creativity or individualism. According to traditional Puritans, any behavior that they consider strange or different from typical Puritan behavior could be the result of witchcraft and the Devil's influence in a person. Salem was vulnerable to this mass hysteria because it had experienced witchcraft on a small scale just a few years before the actual Salem Witch Trials. A laundress by the name of Goody Glover was believed to have afflicted Martha Goodwin with witchcraft and was convicted and hung in 1688.

This event left tension attaining to witchcraft in the Salem community and left it susceptible to the events that occurred only four years later.

The hysteria all began with two girls in the community. These girls were nine year old Betty Parris and eleven year old Abigail Williams. The two girls secretly practiced non-traditional Puritan activities such as fortune telling and voodoo that they were taught by the Parris' house servant. In fear of being punished for taking part in these unaccepted activities, the girls supposedly fake a strange illness in which they would have convulsive seizures and experience trance-like states. The girls underwent thorough physical examination but doctors were unable to come up with any medical reasoning for the strange behavior. The symptoms that the girls suffered from were seemed familiar to the townsfolk. In fact they mirrored the symptoms listed in the...