The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria

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The date is October 20, 1692. Over two-hundred innocent people have been accused of witchcraft and are in jail, one-hundred fifty-two are awaiting trial and twenty have been executed (Kallen 53). No solid evidence was existing to convict these blameless souls of that with which they are charged. The accusers were frustrated, discontented, young women acting on their or their parents' grudges and delusions with lethal force. The number of accusers started low and quickly rose to nearly sixty (Kallen 39). Salem, a small town of Massachusetts, amounted to only 90 houses and approximately five-hundred fifty residents (Kallen 51). In a small town such Salem having a grudge which had resulted from confrontations with neighbors or feelings of envy and carnality would be moderately easy and familiar. A disfavor of those who were not the stereotypical man or woman would also be existent. Hostile feelings along with the Puritanical beliefs held by the community led to the onset of the largest episode of mass hysteria in the United States' history.

Puritanism focused on instilling a fear of sin, with regard to perpetual condemnation as consequence ("History"). When the crisis known as the Salem Witch Trials or Salem Witch Hysteria began there were three primary driving forces. Social anxieties, irrational fears and misguided theology were the primary motivation for the Salem Witch Trials.

Social frustration and bias were often present in seventeenth century Salem. During the Salem Witch Trials women were the preponderance of those that were being persecuted ("Witchcraft"). Women, based on Puritan beliefs, were thought to be more susceptible to the devil ("Witchcraft"). This view could be for a vast number of reasons. Possibly the fact that Eve, in biblical times, was the one to succumb to the serpent's luring deal, not Adam led to...