The Salem Hysteria Essay Research Paper THE

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The Salem Hysteria Essay, Research Paper THE SALEM HYSTERIA Do you believe in witches? Today this question might sound rather ridiculous, but in the 1600’s simply mentioning the word “witch” could get you in some serious trouble with the community. This word could make you the center of contraversy, which could ultimately result in death. “Are you a witch? Are you communicating with the devil? Why don’t you confess?” How would you respond to these questions? The obvious answer would be to say no, but if you were respond this way you would be hung. In my opinion, the Salem Village wanted to believe that you were a witch. Life in Salem was harsh with high taxes, bad weather, wars, and the smallpox epidemic. It was run under a theocratic system with no separation

between church and state. In other words, there was no separation between the laws of God and the laws of the colony. Life was tough and boring for the community of Salem and they wanted a change. This is why I believe the Puritans were so anxious to find witches in their community. The hysteria began in winter of 1692 when a young Puritan girl, Betty Parris, became strangely ill. Betty was the daughter of the highly respected minister of Salem, Samuel Parris. She dove under furniture, contorted in pain, and complained of fever. This could have been a result of a combination of things including: guilt, asthma, stress, child abuse, epilepsy, and delusional psychosis. Betty and other young female Puritans began to experiment with witchcraft. The girls were searching for signs of

romance, fortune, and answers to the future. They would search for these signs in such things as ashes, egg whites, and wax dropped into a glass of water. Such acts of witchcraft, I believe, are still present today. In today’s society, it is not as big of a deal because society has lost a lot of concern for religion. Society feels that there are more important problems to worry about. Also, it would be a lot harder to detect it in today’s culture. Communities and families are not near as close nit as they once were. If someone were to question you about certain actions, it is very common for the person to lie his/her way out of the problem. This kind of behavior is very common in today’s society. The girls learned these practices from Reverend Parris’ slave, Tituba.

Tituba would tell them stories of magic and witchcraft from her homeland in the Caribbean. The problem became more evident when Reverend Parris’ niece, Abigail Williams, began experiencing the same problems that Betty had. The villagers then set their sites towards the devil. The Puritans believed that the devil was attacking and entering their bodies. The doctors had no medical evidence to contradict this, so the witch-hunt began. The first to be accused and arrested were Sarah Good, Sarah Osborn, Tituba, and Martha Cory. These four women all had one thing in common; they were all the weak and vulnerable part of the Salem community. This is true to a certain extent in today’s culture. It is very easy for the high and middle class of society to blame their problems on the

weaker parts of society. This can be said about Wayne County. Wayne County is 99% percent caucasion. It is very hard for an African American or Mexican to get a job in this area. This could be due to the fact that our society is not used to seeing races other than our own and we are afraid of conformity. Nearly everyone believed Betty and Abigail’s story because they had big names in society; they were young women; and people wanted to believe them. To make their stories more convincing, the girls would go into a delusional state saying and acting as if the accused was biting them, pinching, and even choking them. These actions frightened a lot of people, which made them more and more convinced that these girls could not be lying. Once the girls realized that everyone believed