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The Real Salem Witch Trials

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Introduction

The Real Salem Witch Trials Although Arthur Miller fabricated many vital aspects of The Salem Witch Trials in ?The Crucible?, much of what we learn in the play is, in fact, real. There were young girls making wild accusations, paranoia and suspicion amongst neighbours, mass hysteria, merciless villagers, trials, arrests, pardons and hangings. In this essay I will explore the real people affected by these events in Salem, who they were and what they were like, along with the aftermath created by such tragedy and madness. The events took place between 1692 and 1693. Salem was a small town occupied by puritan folk. They were an extremely religious and disciplined people. The children did not play, nor did they read for simple enjoyment. There were no hobbies, no jewellery or make-up for teenage girls to experiment with. The women did not bare skin in any way or form. They did not meet to gossip and giggle. The men did not play sport, or stay home from church if they were tired after a hard day working in the fields. The civilians worked hard and prayed hard, and that was all. In mid-January 1692, Abigail Williams was twelve years old. ...read more.

Middle

Abigail did not accuse John, Elizabeth?s real husband, of witch craft. Miller came to his own creative conclusions. Questioning began on March 1st and throughout Abigail and Betty would shriek and throw fits. Unlike Miller?s interpretation of the events however, Abigail was less of a leader than Anne Putnam. It was Anne who accused the first three women, followed by Martha Corey, an established member of the church, and Dorcas Good, the four year old daughter of Sarah Good, who would be chained to a prison wall for weeks. It was these bold accusations that sparked the fear that anyone in Salem could be a witch. Anne?s parents also accused dozens of witchcraft- many being enemies of the influential puritan family. It is said that people from neighbouring town and villages would come to the trials, just to see the theatrical performances put on by Anne and her Mother. They were dangerously talented actresses. Some historians believe that Anne was as much a victim as she was a villain. It is likely that she was manipulated by the adults around her to achieve their own ends. Most of the afflicted and accusers were in some way related to the Putnam family and Thomas Putnam was a chief filer of complaints in the village. ...read more.

Conclusion

He died in1720. In 1699, Anne?s parents died within two weeks of one another. At aged nineteen, Anne was left to care for her nine siblings. She never married and she died at the age of thirty seven. Betty married Benjamin Barron in 1710. He was a yeoman, a trader, a cordwainer and a shoemaker. They had four children. Betty died six years after her husband in their Concord home on March 21st 1760. She lived the happiest life of all those affected. Abigail gave her last testimony on June 3rd 1692. After this she disappeared without explanation and there are no records indicating what happened to her. It is suggested that she moved to a city on the East coast, working as a prostitute and never marrying. But this is just speculation. Learning about Salem and discovering the stories of the real people involved, makes Miller?s play more believable. I have a newfound respect for the characters, knowing that they lived and breathed before I did. In total, twenty people were found guilty and hanged. Six were found guilty and pardoned, two being pregnant. Mary Perkins Bradbury was found guilty of witch craft but escaped from jail. Five women confessed but were pardoned. Two men were pressed to death with heavy stones. Two people died in jail. Salem will always be remembered for its trials, and how such illogical madness began with just nine pre-adolescent girls. ...read more.

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