The Salem Witch Trials of 1692 were caused by the Puritans’ strict religious standards and their refusal to accept anything that did not conform to their interpretation of the Bible. Salem, a community in Massachusetts that Puritans mainly populated, was the location of the most extensive record of witch trials and murders produced by witch trials. Since most of the trials took place in Salem, the allegations were leveled primarily against fellow Puritans. This meant that the charges could very well be anything so long as the Puritans felt it conflicted with their bible. The charges and trials were fueled not only by the solid religious intolerance that existed at the time but also by the suspected involvement of ergot. This substance is known to create symptoms that can lead to hysteria. At least three factors caused the Salem witch trial frenzy. Those were: age, marital status, gender, lying girls and the division of the town. Although it is still unclear exactly what led to the Salem Witch Trials, this essay will explore several possible causes, including age, marital status, gender, dishonest girls and the division of the town.
Age, gender, and marital status were the first factors contributing to the witch trials hysteria. For instance, document A shows that 12 women have been accused of witchcraft instead of only eight men being charged with the same thing. The document also demonstrates that the hanging occurred on specified days and that on the days when it initially started happening, all of the victims who were hanged were women. The document also shows that the hanging occurred on specific days (Godbeer 23). Another illustration of this can be seen in document B, which reveals that 29 single women and 8 single men were charged with the crime. In addition, 15 married men and 61 married women were arraigned. One man and twenty women were among those who were accused.
The accusers consisted of five single men and 23 single women. Additionally, there were no men and six women who were served as accusers. Only one female accuser was younger than 11 years old (Godbeer 34). One boy and seven females between 11 and 15 were incriminated. One male and thirteen females between the ages of 16 and 20 were also accused. This was followed by six women over 20 who were charged with crimes. To understand why there was so much frenzy and so many hangings, this evidence illustrates the age, gender, and marital status of the accusers. The evidence shows which party was primarily responsible for the witch hunts and which group of people were falsely accused of being a witch because of their beliefs. Unmarried girls were the most likely to charge older, married women of witchcraft.
Lying girls were also a factor in the witch trials. For instance, document C states, “they claim that you bewitched your first husband to death. (Bishop): If it pleases your majesty, I have no idea. The affected were tortured after she shook her head”(Godbeer 157). Furthermore, “what are we to think of those people who…? “He continues to accuse the affiliated children and their acquaintances in a document D. In other words, Upham thought that the girls’/children’s lies were deceiving the public. “It is horrible to think Upham the enormity of their crime,” reads another passage from document D. (160) There is no denying their abilities as actors.”
Upham had come to the realization that the girl’s deceptions led to them being taken advantage of. We are able to draw conclusions about why there was such a panic and why there were so many people hung as a result of the data that it presents. They had been led astray by the dishonest girls into believing in the reality of witches, and as a result, they were eventually responsible for the execution of the accused during the Salem Witch Trials. There was a widespread misconception that Native Americans were fervent Satanists (Burgan 17). Many adults and girls alike, as a consequence of the paranoid milieu that prevailed in Salem at the time, were easily drawn into their delusions.
The fact that the town was so deeply divided was a crucial contributor to the atmosphere of panic that surrounded the Salem Witch Trials. According to document E, for instance, the eastern side of Salem Village experienced a rise in the local population’s wealth as well as their political influence (Karunakar 9538). As a direct consequence of this, the people in Salem “lived on less productive ground and had less political clout” as a result. To phrase it another way, the town of Salem was split in half. There was a place that was more impoverished next to a region that had a greater abundance of resources. Document E suggests that residents of the westernmost part of Salem Village had a greater propensity for making baseless allegations.
Using the evidence, the west part of Salem Village was more likely to be accused because of the disparity in authority. This evidence partly explains the panic because it reveals that the number of accusers in various parts of Salem Village was affected by the power disparity and weather. Those who accused the witches lived in the east, while those who defended them lived on the village’s west side. The poorer residents of Salem Village have accused the more affluent residents of hypocrisy (east part of Salem Village) (Lombardo 20). They assert that many of the victims had previous personal issues with their accusers, citing evidence from Boyer and Nissenbaum. For example, Rebecca Nurse’s husband was embroiled in a land dispute with the Putnams, the family who accused her.
In conclusion, reiteration was caused by three factors: age, gender, marital status, and lying girls. A plausible reason for the Salem Witch Trials may have been caused by age, gender, and marital status. It is more common for young, single girls to accuse married ladies of witchcraft. This shows that the gang responsible for the trials may have been the source of the infamous American satanic riots. Lying girls may also have contributed to reiteration. This is a plausible explanation for why the females may have embellished their stories. Witches, according to popular belief, actually exist. Because of this, they would like to get rid of it. Witches are threatening the girls; the village has become convinced. Finally, town division may have contributed to the Salem Witch Trials. Understanding what individuals in the past thought and how they reacted can help us make better decisions now. This influenced our actions as well. Having learned about this incident, it is relevant now. We now know whether or not this occurrence was right or wrong.
Burgan, Michael. The Salem Witch Trials: Mass Hysteria and Many Lives Lost. Tangled History, 2019.
Godbeer, Richard. Escaping Salem: the other Witch Hunt of 1692. Oxford University Press, 2004.
The Salem Witch Hunt: A Brief History with Documents. Macmillan Higher Education, 2011.
Karunakar, Deeksha. “A Study of Salem Witch Trial: A Gender and Religion Based Discrimination.” Annals of the Romanian Society for Cell Biology, vol. 25, no. 4, 2021, pp. 9536-9552. Web.
Lombardo, Jennifer. The Salem Witch Trials. Cavendish Square Publishing, LLC, 2020.