Salem Witch Trials


Superstition and witchcraft resulted in many being hanged or 
in prison. In the seventeenth century, a belief in witches and 
witchcraft was almost universal. In Salem Massachusetts where the 
witch trials take place many people who are suspicious is accused of 
witchcraft and hanged. Arthur Miller wrote a play called The Crucible. 
It is based on the Salem witch trials. The Salem witch trials change 
many peoples lives and even led to death for some. The power of 
superstition and hearsay can distort from the truth.

 Four ministers of Salem joined Matther, and they spent a whole 
day in the house of the afflicted in fasting and prayer. The result
of which was the delivery of one of the family from the power of the 
witch. A niece and daughter of the parish minister at Danvers were 
first afflicted. Their actions frightened other young people, who soon 
showed the same symptoms, such as loss of appetite and sickness. A 
belief quickly spread over Salem and throughout the state that evil 
spirits are being seen in Salem. Terror took possession of the minds 
of nearly all the people, and the dread made the affliction spread 
widely. "The afflicted, under the influence of the witchery, "admitted 
to see the forms of their tormentors with their inner vision" (Miller 
1082). and would immediately accuse some individual seen with the 
devil. At times the afflicted and the accused became so numerous that
no one was safe from suspicion and its consequences. Even those who 
were active in the prosecutions became objects of suspicion.

 Revenge often impelled persons to accuse others who were 
innocent and when some statement of the accused would move the court 
and audience in favor of the prisoner. "I saw Goody Osborn with the 
devil" (Miller 1060). The accuser would declare that they saw the 
devil standing beside the victim whispering the words in his or her 
ear. The absurd statement would be believed by the judges. Some, 
terrified and with the hope of saving their lives or avoiding the 
horrors of imprisonment, would falsely accuse their friends and 
relatives, while others moved by the same hopes, would falsely confess 
themselves to be witches. Many of the accusers and witnesses came 
forward and published denials of the truth of their testimony, to save 
their own lives. Mr. Paris in the Danver family, who was one of the 
most strong prosecutors of alleged witches, was compelled to
resign his charge and leave the country.

 The acknowledgments of error and pleadings for mercy, could 
not restore the spirits of those who are hanged, nor make changes for 
the pains' others had suffered. The trick had prevailed in greatest 
desire more than six months, and it was not decreasing for more than a 
year. During that time nineteen had been hanged, and Corey Giles who 
is killed by the horrid process of pressing to death with stones 
because he would say if was guilty or innocent. He continued to say 
"more weight" (Miller 1113); until he died. In doing so, his family 
could keep his land. Others had been tortured or frightened into a 
confession of guilt or imprisoned.

 As one can see the power of superstition and the hearsay can 
distort the truth. The Salem witch trials were horrifying and it
changes many peoples lives. The belief in witches did not end with the 
strange excitement. This strange episode in the history of 
Massachusetts astonished the civilized world, and made an unfavorable 
impression on others.

Work Cited

Miller, Arthur. The Crucible. Ellen Bowler. ed. et al.
Literature the American Experiance. Englewood cliffs:
Prentice Hall, 1994. 


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