Salem Possessed Analysis

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Pages: 5

The Salem witch trials are one of the most infamous moments in early colonial American history. In 1692, Salem was the center of attention in colonial America. In what is now modern day Salem, Massachusetts a series of illness were attribute to Witchcraft. Drawing the attention of the world it still remains a huge part of New England culture and has made its way into history books. However the story is much more than a story of wrongly accused people. Like anything else, the Salem witch trials have more causes than what is on the surface. In “The Devil in the Shape of a Woman” by Carol Karlsen and in “Salem Possessed” by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum they explore the underlying causes of the Salem Witch Trials. Both take into account 17th …show more content…
These two men take into account similar aspects that Karlsen discusses. The main focus however is not on gender issues in Salem’s puritan society. Instead it is looked at more as an effect of economic and political stimuli. Throughout the book there are constant accounts of tax records and other financial forms that help give the reader knowledge of the economic state of Salem at the time. The main argument these authors have is the economic divide between two types of economies, one based on agriculture and led by Putmans with support of minister Samuel Parris; The other rooted in mercantilism and led by the Porter family. The fight was mainly between economies rather than gender roles in the eyes of Boyer and Nissenbaum Although the rivalry was long lasting the authors take a look into the accusations. Most accusers were from those whom sided with the Putnams. They believed they had the moral high ground as they were supported by the minister. As you go further into the book the reader discovers that Boyer and Nissenbaum hone in these economic divides rooting from geography and land. Boyer and Nissenbaum say “For here was a community in which these tensions were exacerbated by a tangle of external circumstances: a community so situated geographically that its inhabitants experienced two different economic systems...”2 with an “...unambiguous center of authority...”3 These authors take a look at the ones accused as underrepresented farmers, living on outside of the border of the main town. These were mainly lower status women whom had little support as they were either old or widowed. Boyer and Nissenbaum also describe a faulty political authority. Believing the people on the outskirts are those whom have little support and is why so many more of the rural women were accused as they had the support of the law. However it is quite possible that