Argumentative Essay on Salem Witch Trials

This essay has a total of 892 words and 4 pages.

Salem Witch Trials

Deep inside a town in Massachusetts innocent people were accused of the devil's work,
witchcraft. God-fearing Puritans took it upon themselves to exterminate Satan's followers
influenced by anti-witch ideas and other sources including books and the words of various
priests. Over 100 people were given unfair trials; many were jailed while quite a few were
lynched. Although the Salem witch trials are considered one of the depressing parts of
American history the topic also provides an interesting look at how people thought and
lived during the colonials times.

The practice of capturing witches didn't start at Salem. For centuries Europeans had been
catching supposed witches and burning them at the stake. In 1492 two priests were elected
by the Catholic Church to write a book on the evils of witchcraft. The book was read
widely and told people how witches worked for the devil and the various ways they could
torture and kill people. After reading this book and another anti-witchcraft book,
Relating to Witchcraft and Possessions, by Cotton Mather(a local priest) which encouraged
colonists that even torture was fine to convict people of sorcerery(since real witches
couldn't feel pain) it was no wonder that the Puritans of Salem took it upon themselves to
expel witches in God's name. Another cause of the trials was a problem brewing in Salem
itself. For many years Salem Town and Salem Village had been separate parts of Salem.
Salem Town had the rich merchants and markets while Salem Village had poor bitter farmers.
In an effort to get itself separated from Salem Town, Salem Village hired a priest named
Samuel Parris since they thought since they had their own congregation they could be their
own little town. The people of Salem Town were angry that Salem Village wanted to separate
so many of the townspeople didn't attend Parris's services. Parris used this to his
advantage by telling the villagers that those who did not come to the church were witches
since they obviously did not believe in God. People were helpless as more and more were
accused of devil's work by Parris and many others.

More than 150 men and women were accused of witchcraft in Salem ranging from rich to poor,
farmers to merchants. The first 3 women accused were misfits of Salem. One of them was
Parris's (the village minister's) slave Tituba. The other two supposed witches were Sarah
Good and Sarah Osborne. Sarah Good was very poor and had to beg for money and food while
Sarah Osborne had had 3 different husbands. Parris's daughter was the first child along
with her cousin to be bewitched. While under their spell they accused many people. Most
historians think the girls acted this way to cover up the fact that they often listened to
Tituba's story of magic from her native town in Barbados (since tales that weren't
biblical were not allowed by Puritans). At first they only accused Tituba of witchcraft
but Parris told the children to accuse other women as well to take any blame off of his
since Tituba belonged to him. Even men were sometimes accused of being wizards. Sometimes
people were accused because their behavior was different than the idea of how people
should act in Salem. One of these types of accused was a woman from Salem Town who had a
lively temperament and a child by an affair. She went against the ideas of Puritan women
being quiet and gentle. She even loudly defended herself at her own trial. Even a few
wealthy people were also accused like a successful merchant's wife and a farmer with
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