What were the Causes of the Salem Witch Trials?

Authors Avatar by cadybug4002gmailcom (student)

        Hysteria has hit the world in different ways, but not exactly like it did in the little Salem village. There are many stories and factual articles about what happened during the Salem witch trials, but what caused the panic that surged through the village? Was fear accountable for these horrifying trials?

        Before the events of the Salem witch trials, many fear-inducing events happened.  Some of these included a recent smallpox epidemic, an ongoing war not too far from the village, the rivalry between families, and threats from nearby native American tribes that implied harm.  In the small village of Salem, there was rivalry between two of the main families: the Porters and the Putnams.  These families would bicker and fight over trivial things such as property.  Because of this, there became a lot of contention and separation.  One example of division in the village, other than the latter rivalry, was religion.  Samuel Parris, the pastor and also the Father of the first girl (Elizabeth Parris) to show signs of “bewitchment”, taught Orthodox  Puritan theology.  Some of the citizens of the village believed what he taught, while others did not.  Separation of a group of any type has been known to lead to arguments and anger, and this is where fear of exclusion comes in.  When the accusations of witchery arose, it started as pointing fingers at the outcasts, such as a beggar by the name of Sarah Good.  Accusations then turned towards enemies of the Putnams after Ann Putnam, Jr. showed similar signs of bewitchment.  To stay out of the way and not be condemned of witchery, most villagers did not voice their opinions of the witch trials.  Instead, they stood by and watched and agreed with the accusers.  This shows that fear of exclusion can take over a village and in this particular case, lead to over a dozen deaths.  Another example of fear is the smallpox epidemic.  According to the Salem Witch Museum, a family with the last name Carrier moved from Billerica, MA to Andover, MA (the latter of which is approximately 14 miles from where the Salem village was located) between 1684 and 1689.  Right after the family moved, an outbreak of smallpox occurred in Andover.  This resulted in 13 deaths, several of which were a part of the Carrier family.  When witchery accusations started to spread to other nearby towns, like Andover, Martha Carrier became the first suspect in Andover because she was the only one of her family that survived smallpox.  People thought she was deemed to be the devil’s “queen of Hell”.  Terrifying events can cause  fear, which leads to the ultimate destruction of societies and also leads to hysteria.

Join now!

There are several accounts of catastrophes throughout the history of the earth that have left people frantic and resorting to believing in the unexplainable: the supernatural. Speculation of supernatural occurrences is nothing new. At the end of the 5th century, also the start of the Middle Ages (Dark Ages), the Roman Empire fell. Amid all the distress, people began to forget about scholars and scientific information. They started believing that supernatural happenings (such as witchery) were explanations for the disasters they were experiencing. Another case of citizens thinking supernatural forces were upon them is the Black Death. During the outbreak of ...

This is a preview of the whole essay