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Brooke Limbaugh

Salem Witch Trials 

In the small, well known town of Salem, Massachusetts 1692, where madness was at its highest peak, talk about the devil was in the air, and neighbors took it as far as accusing each other of witchcraft, evil found its very home. Many people in the town started ruthlessly accusing others who we now know were not guilty. About 24 people were indicted for being a witch and received death. Some people, however, died in jail before they had the chance to undergo their retribution. Some of the harsh punishments for being accused of having been a witch during this time were being pressed to death, or in most cases, having a mass hanging session. Some people were put to jail with their children and most of them passed away as well. However, the big question of the salem witch trials is still in the air to this day…. What made all of these accusers believe that there were really witches in their town? Was it because of supernatural beliefs, ergot, or even plain out jealousy?           

To start off, it is evident from document one that some accusers were not faking out of jealousy or ergot, but actually believed that evil was sitting in their very own town. The prosecutors believed that if anyone was acting weird, it was because they were bewitched and were now under a “devil’s spell.” Document one is a verse from “King James Version of The Bible,” which states, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” In 1962, most people believed every word that the Bible claimed. This statement means that if a “witch” was bothering someone, then it should be killed, therefore, they usually decided to hold a mass hanging session, putting off about eight “witches” each time. An additional document that proves people had supernatural believes was “document three.” The first line of this document claims, “These evil spirits are all around.” The people in the town then started to believe in the spirits because they were confident in the minister and listened to what he told them. The last document that proves supernatural beliefs is “document four,” which provides a picture of one of the trials in 1962. People believed that a certain type of birthmark on someone’s back proved witchcraft. In the picture, a woman is trying to point out a symbol on Bridget Bishop’s back to the judge. Belief in supernatural spirits made many people claim someone was guilty of being a witch.

In addition, jealousy was another reason that people accused others of witchcraft. The chart in “document five” leads many people to believe that single women were jealous of a “witch’s” husband. It provides evidence that twenty-three of the prosecutors were single females and sixty-one of the accused were married females. This leads viewers to believe that the single females were ready for a relationship, however, there were not many men that they could marry. In spite, they tried to kill the wives so that they could have their husband to themselves. “Document six” shows dialogue between Bridget Bishop and an examiner. “She shook her head, and the afflicted were tortured,” states line five of the document. The “afflicted” were pretending to be victims of the “witch” that were being tortured from her witchcraft. This proves that some people pretended to be tortured in order to receive something that they want. 

Finally, in addition to jealousy and supernatural beliefs, many people believe that ergot was a reason that many people had the mindset that there was witchcraft. Ergot is a fungus that people can get and become convinced of certain things. Many people feasted on rye bread, which is how the disease is spread. In this case, they would have been convinced that there were witches. “Document eight” states that the disease was spreading to many places in Salem. As a result, people may have been hallucinating. This could have been the reason that people were accusing others and thought that they were being tortured. 

In conclusion, the Salem Witch Trials was a cause of many things. One reason was supernatural beliefs. People believed that there were really witches in their town. In addition, some people pretended out of jealousy. Finally, People now believe that accusers were infected with a disease called ergot. This is caused by eating rye, which many people ate. The salem witch trials caused about 24 people to receive death punishments. However, we now know that the accused people did not deserve to die because there is proof that there were no witches.

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