What impact did religious and social conditions have in the proceedings Of the Salem Witch Trials? Section A The Salem Witch Trials is a subject that has always intrigued me. It is hard to believe nowadays that such accusations as the ones during the trials would ever be made and believed. Throughout this investigation the following question is going to help readers have a better understanding of these trials: What impact or role did the religious and social conditions in Salem Village have in the proceedings of the Salem Witch Trials?
Specifically, this investigation is going to focus on the impacts of the church, the impacts of he frequent arguments between neighbors, the role of woman and girls and the impact of the Native Americans’ attacks; on the Salem Witch Trials (May 1, 1962-January, 1963). A variety of sources are gong to be used to attempt to answer the investigation question. Although books, websites and even a documentary are going to be used, these secondary sources also include primary sources within them.
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How History Is Invented – The Salem Witch Trials (a book), by Lori Lee Wilson; and Witches and Witch-hunts (a book) by Milton Meltzer; are however, the two main sources used, because hose two really focus on the causes and are not only regurgitating facts. These two books share some common ideas, disagree on others and give more importance to different factors; but this is not a bad thing, the contrary, it helps give a wider perspective on the issue. Section B Role of woman: Throughout history of witch hunts: – Mostly elderly women (over 40) were the ones accused and hanged due to belief that they practiced witch craft. Milton Meltzer 53) – Reason 1: It was suspicious that a woman attained the age of forty, due to lower life expectancy of the time and deaths at childbirth. Milton Meltzer 53) – Reason 2: They weren’t useful to society, since their existence in life was merely to bear children. When they couldn’t bear any more children they were regarded as useless and even as a burden to society since they used up resources. Many believed that elderly women were just holding on to life to do the devils work. Milton Meltzer 53)- However women of all ages were much more persecuted throughout the history of witch hunts, than men. (Milton Meltzer 51) -Reason 1: if they survived childbirth, women feel much less frequently ill because of the epidemic plagues, than men. This made men think that women were using the Devils power to survive the plagues. (Milton Meltzer 54) -Reason 2: Since women were considered “mentally, morally, and physically weaker, according to Mallets ?? a book that served as guide during the witch hunts, they were more inclined to seek for strength.
This belief promoted the idea that since women were weaker, they envied much more easily and therefore seeded the help of the Devil to gain power and harm others. (Milton Meltzer 55) In Puritan society/Same Village specifically: – In Salem Village, women were either looked upon as obedient daughters, dedicated wives or greedy and unhappy witches. Any women that didn’t fall into the first two categories, tended to be women that didn’t follow the flow of the mainstream, and as a consequence were considered to be ungrateful for what they had.
At the time this made it seem like they therefore would make pacts with the devil to obtain more (Lori Lee Wilson 77) – Governor Winthrop tried to attract women to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, since there weren’t many at the time. He did this by changing a few laws that allowed, for example, the right to own land. Men especially disliked this idea of women owning land. Yet, this other reason for which woman were targeted. (Lori Lee Wilson 77/78) -Accusing women for the misfortunes of the village removed all responsibility off of men in high positions. Lori Lee Wilson 83) Role of girls: – Many of the afflicted girls partially start accusing people because of their feel of powerlessness. (Frances Hill 23) -Girls in Salem Village had a lot of anxiety, because ever since they are born they Were told that they were never sure to reach heaven. (Lori Lee Wilson 72) -It is also that the first girls afflicted (Paris’ daughters) often heard their father’s sermons at church. These remorse tried to make people feel guilty of their actions, which would then make them more likely to contribute more money to the church and to him. This gave the girls even more anxiety. History Channel) -As most girls, the first afflicted (Abigail and Betty), had a lot of chores to do , they had very little entertainment (Paris thought that children’s games lead to idleness and that this was linked to the work of the devil) and the only way they did entertain themselves was by reading about prophecies and fortune telling. These stories probably triggered their imagination and put a lot of superstitions into he girls’ heads. (Tim Suttee 1)- When the girls started up their strange behaviors, they were pushed by their fathers to give names of the ‘witches’ that were torturing them.
If this pressure wasn’t present at the time, then maybe the girls would have never blamed anyone of being a witch. Paris, especially, wanted to make sure that his girls weren’t accused themselves of being witches; he forced the girls to give names to take suspicions off of them. (Frances Hill 27) Native American attacks: – People in Salem village believed that God was punishing them with Native American attacks. This led the people of the village to ‘purify’ their town; by seeking those who did wrong. Tim Suttee 2) Arguments between neighbors: – There is a clear correlation between the people afflicted and the people accused. On the east side of the village were people that were doing well economically; and wanted to be part of Salem Village. On the Western side of the Village were less well to do people that desired to separate from Salem Village. This created a division in the village: the accusers were on the east side and the accused were on the western side. (Tim Stutter) – People from he west and eastern side, also had arguments about including a church in Salem Village or not.
The people on the east side supported the idea of having a church in the village, however the people on the west side didn’t support this idea, because building a church in their village meant they had to pay double the taxes (History channel) – The Puritans living in Massachusetts often were victims of crop failures and the cold weather. By needs of survival, farmers would often have disputes over land. (Lori Lee Wilson 21) – Puritans believe that hard work was good, even if it was at the expense of others.