Salem Witch Trials Essay

1632 words - 7 pages

Salem Witch Trials

Throughout history millions of people have been scorned, accused,
arrested, tortured, put to trial and, persecuted as witches. One would
think that by the time the United States was colonized, these injustices on
humanity would have come to an end, but that was not so. In 1692 a
major tragedy occurred in America, the Salem witch trials. It all began
when a group of girls accused others, generally older women, of
consorting with the devil. The witchcraft hysteria in Salem,
Massachusetts resulted from the strict Puritan code which aroused the
girls interest in superstition and magic and caused strange behavior.

The Salem witch trials were based on the Puritans and their God
versus Satan and his followers and their strict codes. Puritans had
always thought that they were the new chosen people, abandoning a land
of sin and oppression to establish the Promised Land (New England).
Puritans beliefs were rooted in contrasts. (1) They believed that if there
was something good there was something bad to contradict it, for
instance since there was a God, there must be a devil. Since there was
good, there must be evil, and since there were saints chosen to do God’s
work on earth, there must be witches who were instruments of the Devil.
(2) So if someone did not believe in witches it was considered heresy in
Salem. A witch was regarded as a person who had made an actual,
deliberate, formal pact with Satan and would do all in her in power to aid
him in his rebellion against God. (3) The Puritans believed that they
were living in a world of chaos and crime, and directed their efforts to
constantly guard against sin. (4)

Life in Salem Village was not easy at the best of times. Gaiety and
merrymaking were regarded as irreligious, and the people of the village
were somber and severe. Their lives were spent in hard work and
religious observance.

Even their relaxation was associated with the meeting house. On the
Sabbath there was a long service in the morning and another in the
afternoon. Village residents who came from outlying farms were not able
to get home before the services, and it gradually became a regular
practice for the time before the services to be spent in visiting and
conversation. This was the time when gossip and news were spread from
one to another. (5) Children would accompany their parents twice a
week to listen to Samuel Parris’ three-hour sermons. Parris would strictly
discipline any child who wiggled, fell asleep, or showed any signs of
impatience. “They routinely enforced their concept of moral discipline to
unreasonable degrees.” (6)

Christmas and Easter were not celebrated by Puritans because they
believed that they were not truly religious and came from pagan ideas.
They occasionally got holidays from school during the harvest time. Toys
were forbidden in Salem, they were thought of as frivolous and
time-wasting. Dolls were especially harmful because they...

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