Analysis: The Salem Witch Trials

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Lyle Koehler argues that the Salem Witch Trials began due to witch hysteria caused by the fits of the young women being affected by witchcraft. They were given power to accuse the witches and used their power to attack their oppressing forces, such as authority figures. The act of accusing people of being witches was a scapegoat in order gain and retain power in a situation where people felt powerless. They also targeted nontraditional women as they were easier to justify. Many people were accused but, as time progressed the difference between witch and bewitched became almost unclear as multiple bewitched girls were later accused of witchcraft. However, as the accusations went from poorer and less reputable victims to people of more reputation and influence in the colonies; the women accusers seemed to had gone to far and witchcraft accusations and hangings were banned and many accused witches were let free.

Laurie Winn Carlson examines the arguments and theories of others such as: community based socio-economic problems, village factionalism, hysteria complex or Mass psychogenic illness, freudian
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Like slaves, women did not have a say in government and were not able to own land. Those privileges were rights of white men and most often wealthy white men. Colonial women, besides not having to work harsh unpaid days were much on the political level of slaves. Also, any sort of independent act or stray from the ideal woman was unholy and put the woman at risk. This was shown by nontraditional women being an easy target for witchcraft. Another example would be Anne Hutchinson being exiled to Rhode Island. She was an intelligent and influential woman with religious views which scared the ministers and men of the Massachusetts Bay colony. They later exiled her and her followers, who were mainly women and succeeded in oppressing yet another woman going past her set role of the “ideal”

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