Salem Witch Trials Essay

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The Salem witch trials is an episode where a group of young girls bring on a kind of paranoia of witches to the people of the Massachusetts colony which then leads to a series of accusations and executions. The true cause of the girls’ behavior isn’t quite fully understood but various explanations have been proposed as to why what had happened actually happened. A question regarding the reason of the bizarre behavior is if the Salem witchcraft hysteria actually a product of women’s search for power. One document argues that the reason indeed was a search for power, while the other document argues that the cause was an epidemic of encephalitis. Both documents have valid arguments, context, and information to be the explanation for the true cause of the Salem witchcraft hysteria, but both have their faults. The two documents together can create the better explanation as there were most likely multiple factors that contributed to the Puritan girls’ bizarre behavior rather than just one simple factor. The first document written by Lyle Koehler supports the idea that the Salem witchcraft hysteria was the product of the Puritan women’s search for power. Koehler describes the powerlessness and frustration Puritan women experienced. Puritan women at the time had many restrictions on what they could do freely and had a specific, limited role within the family which included being a subordinate of the husband. In this social hierarchy, the children were at a lower status than the women in a sense. They had many more restrictions than the adult women did. The girls who started the Salem witchcraft hysteria were not only women but were also children, so the level of frustration went over the top and the girls finally lashed out against society by acting as if they were victimized by witches terrorizing the town. The girls were able to accuse and have people executed freely

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