Damned Women: an Analysis

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Damned Women: An Analysis

Many forms of literature paints us an interesting portrait of women in Puritan society. by Women,s roles, specifically concerning religious conviction, are very interestingbjhighlighted images Reis. In particular, women were commonly seen as witches. "Derogatory cufural

of

women fueled witchcraft accusations and proceedings and women's guilt over their perceived spiritual inadequacies could even lead them to confess to specific transgressions they apparently had not committed."(Reis

X\r). Therefore. Puritan \\'omen confessing for things they never

committed- showing the1. u'ere a little rveaker mentall1'and spiritually than today's females. In the analysis of the book, Damned ll''onten- each chapter u'ould be briefly analyzedrn order to understand how and why the Puritan society these rvomen the way they do. In the first chapter, an investigation of how Puritan theology functioned as a lived religion is introduced.

"ln

this chapter, I will explore the underside of covenant theology in both the perpectives of men and women, and how it differentiates between the sexes."(Reis,12). Basically men, women, and

children lived under the doctrine of original sin. Assurance of salvation vied with the certainty of depravity. This profoundly affected how some women responded to witchcraft. The Puritan culture is based upon the fear of the devil, and this is why they are very religious. It was preached over and over to these followers that since the day they were born through the rest of their lives, they have a constant battle with the devil for their souls. During the sermons, the people were categonzedinto three groups: those who considered themselves among the elect, those who

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remained anxious and unsure of their election, and those who were absolutely convinced of their place among the sinning reprobates. (Reis,15). Thomas Hooker talked about the natural sin man from birth, and that if he does not give his life to Christ, he willbe sentenced to

of

(

condemnation. "He is a creature utterly void of all goodness, and a seminary of all manner of

abomination."(29). For women, it was worse because they also thought of themselves

as

completely worthless, virtually unredeemable fi^o'., of Satan. To make things worse, there was

little or no supporl from their men. "...there is a tendency to divorce the feminine soul from the male self." It was suggested that Puritan men could distinguish between their innate selves (their souls) and the rest of themselves (mind and bodl') and thus could repent for particular sins

without perceiving themselr'es as u orthXess. But for *-omen. in contrast, \ 'ere basically hopeless because repent

for sins $'as not sufficient io redeem their souls, "...for

a

woman's sinfulness

encompassed her entire being."

ln the second chapter, Reis explores beliefs about the devil's wily ways, his devious methods he practices upon his prey, and also how witchcraft accepts his physical and metaphorical presence. honically, accusations of women who were thought to be witches were by other women sometimes. Elizabeth Wellman was one of the women who first claimed to accused Sarah Cole of being a witch. Gender beliefs in the Puritans had imposed that only

witchcraft was definitely a feminine doing, "a witch was a person- usually u *o-*- who had made apact with the devil. It made sense that the devil would lurk near one of his own"" (55). The Puritan society grasped the works of the devil and how he works. Frequently, he would try to

lure people into his service by tempting them with offers of riches, an easy life, and ultimately, salvation. They claimed that the devil seemed to work in a gendered way in which he would try

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to lure mostly women than men, but to contradict this idea, there u'ere a number of men who had admitted that he had tried to lure them as well. The sernons of the Puritans \\'as...
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