Devil in the Shape of a Woman

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"The Devil in the Shape of a Woman," written by Carol Knudson, is about the accusations of witches in New England during the 17th century. Knudson focused the book on the reasons why women were accused of being witches, and how they were punished. The government in New England seemed to point the finger at women who fit into two categories. "Most witches in New England were middle-aged or older women eligible for inheritances" (p. 117). The categories that Knudson focused most on were gender and age. Knudson made a big emphasis on gender being the main determining factor of being a witch. Women were targeted, with the exception of a few men, as being witches. Things that women did, such as getting into an argument with their husband would give the people of the town reason to accuse her of being a witch. This made women of the 17th century very scared. Knudson made this statement by saying that the witch trials were a "violent struggle within women as well as an equally ambivalent but violent struggle against women" (p. xv). This means that women were fearful being accused of being a witch and when they were accused of being a witch, they were brutally punished. To women, they were constantly watching themselves and their actions to make sure that one small act wouldn't find them being tried for being a witch. Age was another factor to being accused of being a witch. There was a certain time in a woman's life where she was most afraid of being accused. This was middle-age. When we think of witches, we generally think of older women, but the book proved that myth false. Younger women generally weren't suspect to being accused. "Women under forty were… unlikely witches in Puritan society" (p. 65). After a woman turned forty, they began to fear being accused. "Almost 40 percent of older accused women were brought to trial and well over half of those tried were convicted" (p. 66). The book successfully proves that women over forty were the main...
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