In the Devil's Snare

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In The Devil’s Snare
Mary Beth Norton

There have been several interpretations of the Salem Witchcraft Crisis of 1692. Like every issue that has come up, everyone has their own take on it. Mary Beth Norton chose to lay out her version of the witchcraft trials in her book, In the Devil's Snare. It is a tremendously ambitious book. Throughout the book, Norton is trying to lay out connections between the experiences of settlers in Maine, the accusations of the afflicted in Salem, and the actions and decisions of the colony leaders.

I’ll admit, I don’t know much about the Salem Witchcraft Trials, if anything at all. I had the choice of reading The Crucible in high school, but I turned it down and chose to read a different book. Therefore, I really had not choice but to believe Norton when she said that her approach to examining the witchcraft crisis was a new one. Instead of looking at events case-by-case, she starts at the very beginning (the first whisper of an accusation) and moves chronologically through the entire episode. When it was needed, Norton would pause to add background information.

Mary Beth’s point of view of the Salem Witchcraft Crisis is that it all was triggered by from the results of the Indian Wars. She believes that the only way this crisis could be understood, is if you looked at the military conflict between the English settlers and the Native Americans from that region. By the specific attention paid to Tituba, Martha Corey, and Abigail Hobbs, Norton shows how these individuals contributed to the linkage between the witchcraft crisis and the military conflict with the natives. In my opinion, I think Norton's conclusion should have been put at the start. This is where she explains her thesis, which was that witchcraft crisis of 1692 was in large part a reaction to King Philip's War and King William's War, clearly and concisely. Mary Beth does a good job at connecting the participants to the Wars; however I don’t think she’s very...
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