Salem Witch Trials

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The Massachusetts Bay Experiment, although it started as a commercial enterprise, was highly grounded on religion. As John Winthrop said, they wanted to create a “city upon a hill,” or a utopia where God’s favor could be achieved. To attain this Promised Land, the Puritans devoted themselves to their church life and God. Spending hours at service every day, the Puritans were a closely-knit community due to the power of the church. Whenever any problem in the community emerged, the Puritans looked to the church to give them an answer. Thus, it is understandable that the witch trials in the Massachusetts area would become such hysteria. Though many historians have attributed the cause of the Salem Witch Trials to economic instability between the thriving seaports and the languishing agriculture and the political struggle between the highly patriarchal society and the independent women who started to defy the status quo of women, these are not the most compelling cause of the Salem Witch Trials. Through the system of the trials, the people who were prosecuted, and the reaction of those who were accused, it is evident that the most compelling reason of the Salem Witch Trials was the deeply religious nature of the Puritan’s society.

One reason religion played such a strong part in the Salem Witch Trials is because the whole system of the witch trials was highly centered on religious points. In the examinations of Tituba, Sarah Good, Rebecca Nurse, Mary Easty, Bridget Bishop, and other people who were accused of witchcraft, most of the interrogation questions were centered on the Devil or other religious points. In the trial of Sarah Good, March 1st, 1692, the prosecutor asked her questions such as “Sarah Good what evil spirit have you familiarity with” and “have you made no contract with the devil,” which clearly shows the religious base these trials have been built on. Also in the examination of Mary Easty, April 22nd, 1692, John Hathorne asked “how far...
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