Superstition and witchcraft resulted in many being hanged orin prison. In the seventeenth century, a belief in witches andwitchcraft was almost universal.
In Salem Massachusettswhere the witch trials take place many people who aresuspicious is accused of witchcraft and hanged. ArthurMiller wrote a play called The Crucible. It is based on theSalem witch trials. The Salem witch trials change manypeoples lives and even led to death for some.
The power ofsuperstition and hearsay can distort from the truth. Fourministers of Salem joined Matther, and they spent a wholeday in the house of the afflicted in fasting and prayer. Theresult of which was the delivery of one of the family from thepower of the witch. A niece and daughter of the parishminister at Danvers were first afflicted. Their actionsfrightened other young people, who soon showed the samesymptoms, such as loss of appetite and sickness. A beliefquickly spread over Salem and throughout the state that evilspirits are being seen in Salem.
Terror took possession ofthe minds of nearly all the people, and the dread made theaffliction spread widely. “The afflicted, under the influence ofthe witchery, “admitted to see the forms of their tormentorswith their inner vision” (Miller 1082). and would immediatelyaccuse some individual seen with the devil. At times theafflicted and the accused became so numerous that no onewas safe from suspicion and its consequences.
Even thosewho were active in the prosecutions became objects ofsuspicion. Revenge often impelled persons to accuse otherswho were innocent and when some statement of the accusedwould move the court and audience in favor of the prisoner. “I saw Goody Osborn with the devil” (Miller 1060). Theaccuser would declare that they saw the devil standingbeside the victim whispering the words in his or her ear. Theabsurd statement would be believed by the judges.
Some,terrified and with the hope of saving their lives or avoidingthe horrors of imprisonment, would falsely accuse theirfriends and relatives, while others moved by the same hopes,would falsely confess themselves to be witches. Many of theaccusers and witnesses came forward and published denialsof the truth of their testimony, to save their own lives. Mr. Paris in the Danver family, who was one of the most strongprosecutors of alleged witches, was compelled to resign hischarge and leave the country. The acknowledgments oferror and pleadings for mercy, could not restore the spiritsof those who are hanged, nor make changes for the pains’others had suffered. The trick had prevailed in greatestdesire more than six months, and it was not decreasing formore than a year.
During that time nineteen had beenhanged, and Corey Giles who is killed by the horrid processof pressing to death with stones because he would say if wasguilty or innocent. He continued to say “more weight” (Miller1113); until he died. In doing so, his family could keep hisland. Others had been tortured or frightened into aconfession of guilt or imprisoned.
As one can see the powerof superstition and the hearsay can distort the truth. TheSalem witch trials were horrifying and it changes manypeoples lives. The belief in witches did not end with thestrange excitement. This strange episode in the history ofMassachusetts astonished the civilized world, and made anunfavorable impression on others. WORK CITED Miller,Arthur.
The Crucible. Ellen Bowler. ed. et al.
Literature theAmerican Experiance. Englewood cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1994.