The Other Witch Hunt of 1692
American Economic and Social History
September 26, 2012
The seventeenth century was full of challenges; political, social, and economical. Across the board individuals struggled to live, although the conditions had much improved from the beginning of the colonies. Women in particular had a difficult time fitting into this patriarchal this society. Women were defined by men and were seen as an accessory to men. In the colony of New England women were learning how to have a silent voice, while still maintaining the proper role of time. The way women were seen by men, who ran the colony, and the way men thought, not only about women, but also about the world would sculpt the society and the eventual trials of witches. Escaping Salem by Richard Godbeer illustrates the diverse roles that women played in New England during an eventful witch trial of 1692. Women and the Enlightenment thought influenced the outcome of the Katherine Branch witch trial.
Although the book is focused mainly on female characters their descriptions where based of their male counterparts. Godbeer writes to describe Abigail Wescot, “Abigail’s husband Daniel, who at forty-nine her senior by just over a decade, has become a leading figure in the town…That their neighbors recognized Daniel’s qualities was a source of much pleasure to Abigail.” (p.14) Using her husband to describe her age as well as her likes and dislikes shows how a women is an extension of her husband rather than an individual. Daniel Wescot does play a large role in the story of Kate and her accusations of witchcraft. Throughout the seventeenth century women continue to be hidden by their husband or father. Towards the end of the century women began to allow their private political views to be shared publicly, though religious writings. Although still taboo was the opposing view of their husbands.
Having a lack of identity was not the only problem women faced in the 17th
References: Godbeer, R. (2005). Escaping Salem: The other witch hunt of 1692. Oxford, New York: Oxford University Press.