Bridget Bishop

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“The blackest chapter in the history of Witchcraft lies not in the malevolence of Witches but in the deliberate, gloating cruelty of their prosecutors.” When Theda Kenyon made this observation she was thinking about the atrocious behavior and actions that took place in Salem in 1692. During this tragic event neighbors were turned against one another and no bond was sacred. The men and women of Salem faced accusations from all directions and often the accusers were their close friends, business partners, and even their spouses. Panic filled Salem village and suddenly the slightest discrepancy in behavior became a reason to name someone as a witch. One of the greatest examples of how the hysteria brought upon lethal allegations for some of Salem’s citizen is the case of Bridget Bishop, the first person to be tried and executed for witchcraft in Salem.
The story of Bridget Bishop is a sad yet enlightening account on the events that took place throughout the course of the witch hunt. Bishop’s case involves every dynamic thought likely by historians to have aided in the severity and length of the trials. Her life before the trials, her checkered past with neighbors, and, of course, her behavior during the trials aided in her guilty verdict, but there is still more to be explored. Her story also encompasses the political, cultural, social, and psychological dynamics at play in the community as well. By taking a closer look at the life and trial of Bridget Bishop, historians can get an accurate and insightful look at the trials as a whole.
What people often fail to recognize about witch hunting is that it had occurred in Europe on a much larger scale for a longer period of time before Salem was even granted its first charter. It is estimated that the Great European Witch-hunt was responsible for anywhere from 60,000 to 100,000 executions. Witches were often held responsible for many unfortunate events that befell communities and individuals and many

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