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What Caused the Salem Witch Trials Hysteria? Essay Sample

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What Caused the Salem Witch Trials Hysteria? Essay Sample

The salem witch trials hysteria of 1692 was caused by the Puritans strict religious standards and intolerance of anything not accepted with their scripture. The largest account of witch trials as well as deaths by witch trials occurred in Salem, a village heavily populated with the Puritans. Because most of the trials were occurring in Salem, this meant that the accusations were happening among the Puritans themselves, which could very well be anything as long as the Puritans found it as contradicting their bible. Not only did the strict religion intolerance fuel the accusations and trials, but also the possible factor of ergot being involved which has been known to cause symptoms leading to hysteria. The Puritans were a very closely knit group of followers that portrayed themselves as the destined religion, as suggested by Cotton Mather of document C as he implies that evil is everywhere, and it is the Puritans duty as good followers to destroy that evil.

Due to the upbringing of the Puritans revolving around their bible, they relied solely to it for guidance and followed what it preached to the word. In document A, we are presented with an exact line from the Puritans book (King James Bible) in Exodus 22:18, which states “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” or simply put, no witch is to be allowed to live. As believers the Puritans must follow what is in their bible, so any accusation of a witch was treated very seriously. Most of time however there was no way to prove innocence of being a witch, so death was likely to follow. The Puritans could not spare someone who had already been accused however, because if it there is a chance that the accused is indeed a ‘witch’, then they would be going against their scripture by releasing that evil. Another thing to note about the Puritans during the Salem witch trials is that they became even more isolated due to the hunting they did.

According to document I and J, the Puirtans were mainly gathered in one specific region, on the infertile land to the west of Salem town. Many of the accused victims are noted located to the east of the Puritan location, where the land was more fertile and the town was notably closer. Due to the locations of these two forces, its possible to infer that those living outside Puritan terriotry were better off economically due to their location. In document K and L ,it seems the Puritans also caused trouble regarding wanting a piece of this fertle land and buisness prosperity. To do so, we are presented with the example of Ann Putnam, whom lived on Puritan territory and for two generations was being harrased by Rebekkah nurse who was not on Putnam territory. This is because often the Puritans would accuse those of the other side for aiding in cocealing a witch, or of being a witch themselves in hope of gaining more land from those they dislocated.

Rebekkah nurse’s family was a victim of this harassment, and is returning the favor to Ann Putnam now. Lastly to further fuel the hysteria on all the occurring witch trials, was the possibility of ergot playing a role among the Puritan accusers, as was proposed by Linda Caporael in document N. Ergot, which may or may not have been present and consumed in the diet of the Puritans, could lead to abnormal body symptoms such as a raise in anxiety. With all the trials occurring around the village of Salem, it’s likely the thought of possibly being accused caused anxiety levels to soar among the people, particular the females. According to documents B and E, most of the accusers were women who accused other older women.

Due to women hormone which could cause a raise in anxiety, as well as the possibility or Ergot being involved, its very likely women accused women in order to prove themselves as being good Puritans for participating in the hunting, or to make them look good in the eyes of the ministers so as they would not be accused. Accusations raising the toll in the number of victims of the Salem witch trials could have been possible for a number of reasons. The strict religion or the Puritans which called for obedience and participation. Jealousy or human natural instinct, fitting of the Puritans with their large ego’s, caused accusations in hopes of receiving better land through this method. And lastly the possibility of ergot being involved which could have affected the health reasoning in those affected by its symptoms during a stressful time of constant worrying, all could have fueled the hysteria of the Salem witch trials.

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