Salem Witch Trials Research Paper

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Salem Witch Trials: The Intersection of Theological, Demographical, and Scientific Approaches in Understanding Looming largely over colonial American history, the Salem Witch Trials of 1962 have undergone immense scrutiny and scholarly attention over the centuries. This could be due to the nature of the event itself, being so horrifying and unaccountable, gripping the attention of many (Ray 19). The causes behind what drove such a violent witchcraft hysteria are constantly debated and argued, lending such an event to be approached and analyzed in a various array of ways. The main goal of many historians and scholars alike is to try and decipher how the events that started from accusations made by a group of young girls lead to the trail…show more content…
The elders in the area attributed such actions to the workings of witchcraft and Satanic worship (Wilson 17). This group of adolescent girls blamed their hysterics on local village women, claiming that their behavior was a result of witchcraft (Goss 1). This sparked a frenzy within Salem and trials and convictions of about one hundred-forty-four people, seventy eight percent being women, followed in the months after (Reis 15). Because these events occurred in a mainly Puritan based community, a popular approach in understanding the events of the Salem Witch trials is to take on a theological analysis. The demographical approach, or understanding why it was largely young women being tried, is another way in investigating this event, deeply examines the role of gender as a main influence on the accusation trend. Science advances and studies done today lend the possibility of disease such as encephalitis and ergot poisoning to be the cause of such fits of hysteria (Norton 4). Instead of being treating as individual and explicit approaches, unifying all of these analysis can lend insight in how they are all intertwined and dependent. This paper will observe how the theological, demographical, and psychiatrical/scientific approaches in studying the Salem Witch…show more content…
Because the Salem Witch Trials occurred prior to the error of Reason, where scientific and technological advances were strived for, theology played a main roll while science remained in the dark (Goss 2). Although doctors existed back then, it was much easier for the people, who had limited access to scientific knowledge, to believe in the evil workings of Satan and witchcraft than in the psychiatric diagnoses. Diseases were easily written off as misfortunes as a working of Satan and the betterment for the quality of life was primarily based on God’s good grace (Wilson 17). Today, with great advances in the scientific world, two new arguments are made for what could have triggered hysterical fits in young people at this time. Encephalitis, or acute inflammation of the brain, either viral or bacterial, can lead to seizure hallucinations, loss of consciousness, and many other symptoms of confusion. This is one possible explanation of the type of fits the people of Salem could have been experiencing. Another recent discovery that could have caused such fits is the possibility of ergot poisoning (Goss 7). Ergot poisoning or ergotism is the prolonged exposer to fungus diseased ryes and other cereals. As a result, people suffering from this experience convulsive

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