What Caused the Salem Witch Trial Hysteria

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Witchcraft originally began in Europe in the 14th century and came to an end in the 18th century. Similar events occurred in the spring of 1692 in Salem, a small group of women testified to be controlled by Satan and blamed the local residents of Salem of witchcraft which caused a wave of hysteria and spread through Salem. A witch is a woman who signed a pact with the devil or sold her soul to the devil, a man was known as a wizard.

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In the 1600s when unusual physical characteristics were observed, the residents of Salem were not able to explain the growth of unusual flap of skin on the body, commonly known as a witchr’s tit. When a person was accused of witchcraft, the residents of Salem would examine the person for a witchr’s tit, which is basically a skin tag caused by diabetes. The picture in Document D suggests that people are looking for the witch’s tit on the womanr’s back which suggests that unusual physical characteristics were signs of witchcraft.

Salem back then was a pure theocracy, which means that the people of Salem strongly believed that every word in the Bible was the true word of God and has to be followed. They also believed that witches existed and anybody could become a witch or a wizard by just signing a pact with the devil. In Document C it is indicated that devils and witches exist and the devil can possess anybody.

Based off of Document A which says, Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, which means that a witch does not deserve to live, which is why the punishment for witchcraft was death.

Document H clearly suggests that fits experienced by adolescents and many adults were natural and might be a sign of convulsive ergotism. According to Document N accusers could have been suffering from a psychological disorder called convulsive ergotism, a condition caused by ergot a type of fungus found in rye and other grains. Rye and other cereal grains were mainly grown in the fields of Salem. Females had more chances of ergot poisoning than men. Children and pregnant women were more than likely to be affected by the condition. Symptoms include crawling sensations on the skin, trembling and shaking, wryneck, muscle spasms, confusions, delusions, hallucinations, vertigo, seizure-like muscle contractions in addition to a number of other symptoms. Rye was planted in April, harvested in August and threshing most probably took place before Thanksgiving. The symptoms of ergotism can be seen in children on December 1691. The next fall, in 1692, the hysteria ended.

On 19 April 1692, Bridget was called for examination and when she came near the affected girls they started getting fits. The examiner thinks that she is hurting the girls and when Bridget nods her head they were tortured when she looked up and the affected girls also looked up, which implies that they were just acting. According to Charles W. Upham, the girls just wanted to create some excitement in the neighborhood and when they realized that their mischief had reached to a whole new level, they went along with the insanity they created. They were prosecutors of every person that was tried in the court. They were not punished for the madness they created and there probably can be no doubt that they were great actors. Based on Document F and Document G we can conclude that they were just acting.

On the basis of Document K, Document L, and Document M one of the main reason why many people were accused of witchcraft could be hatred among the residents of Salem. Rebecca Nurse was accused of witchcraft by Ann Putnam Jr., she said that Nurse had affected her by biting, pinching, and pricking her. Ann Putnam Sr. also accused Nurse of witchcraft and said that Nurse murdered her children and tried choking her. Ann Putnam Sr. also feared and hated Nurse because she was from Topsfield, whose town officials had been harassing their family and Rebecca’s husband was involved in a dispute with Ann Putnamr’s father-in-law.

The Salem Witch trials is still an unsolved mystery because nobody knows what caused such a major outbreak and nobody knows the fundamental reason for the outbreak and why so many innocent people were accused and hanged.

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What Caused The Salem Witch Trial Hysteria. (2019, May 28). Retrieved December 8, 2022 , from

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