The Salem Witch Trials
The year 1692 was a time of horror in Salem, MA. A witch-hunt took place after a group of girls became hysterical while playing in the woods and it was proposed that they were bewitched. These girls accused older women of consorting the devil. Before the trials were over, 300 men and women had been accused. By the time the chaotic witch-hunt was finished, little enthusiasm for the persecution of witches remained in Massachusetts and the superstition of witchcraft ended the trials (Sheffield).
The trouble originated in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris who was the minister of the local church. Several girls in the community started spending their afternoons there in the kitchen with Tituba, the Rev. Parris’ West Indian slave, to learn magic. The girls had been up to some mischief for some time and were curious about their futures, so they read each others palms until Abigail Williams spread the word about how Tituba could float an egg white in a glass and this unusual practice could tell “ what trade their sweethearts should be of” ( Watson 116). As the girls grew closer to one another
something seemed to have come over them. They were no longer acting like good quite Puritan maidens but more like something possessed (Roberts 26).
On January 20,1962 nine year old Elizabeth Parris and eleven year old Abigail Williams began to act strangely, displaying screaming, convulsive seizures, trance-like states and mysterious spells. Within a short time other Salem girls began to demonstrate similar behavior (Sheffield). Sometimes they would get on their hands and knees and act like mad dogs. All over the community the girls drew a crowd, some seemed to think all they needed was a good whipping to set them straight, others stood looking at them in helpless horror as the girls endured their fits. A physician was called to examine the girls, but after finding no medical cause, he announced that the devil had come to Salem Village and the girls were bewitched. Ministers from surrounding communities came to offer advice and they all quickly agreed that Satan’s new challenge would have to be met. This meant the girls would need to identify the witches who were casting spells on them (Roberts 26).