Between 1645 and 1647, England was in the midst of it's most serious witchcraft outbreak. Several hundred people were hanged with approximately 90 percent of them being women. In 1656, a widow residing in Boston was called to stand before the elected officials and representatives in Massachusettes County Court. Her name was Ann Hibbens and although she desperately plead innocent, even after having her case re-tried, she was once again convicted by the jury and by the words of Governor John Endicott, she was to “goe from the barr to the place whence she came, and from thence to the place of execution, and there to hang till she was dead.” Five weeks later, Ann Hibbens was executed as a witch. It was no shock to New Englanders that a woman be executed for witchcraft, they had already witnessed 'Hibbens Fate' with sixteen previous executions in the decade before, which included between eight and nine women and one man.
In the Salem Witch Trials, Sarah Good, Sarah Osbourne and Tituba were the first three women to be accused of witchcraft for allegedly afflicting Betty Paris and Abigail Williams, two young girls, with a demonic disease. They had been accused of witchcraft out of rumors about their “outcast” natures and eccentricities by other girls and were sent to jail despite any tangible evidence of their alleged connection with witchcraft. A spread of accusations arose within Salem following their arrest, most of which had their basis in rumor rather than on concrete evidence. During the period of McCarthyism, Senator Joseph McCarthy accused two hundred and five people of being “card carrying” communists in a speech in Wheeling, Virginia. He accused government employees,
Confessing to witchcraft was the only way a member of the accused wouldn’t be executed. At the end of the trials, one of the girls who accused people of being witches stated, “It was all false.” The damage done during the trials was over 150 people were arrested and imprisoned, twenty-nine were convicted of witchcraft, nineteen of the accused
She was arrested and tried for practicing witchcraft because of her American Indian decent. Seen as “Devil worshipers” American Indians were perceived as being familiar with occult practices (536). This stereotype left Tituba with no control of her situation and fearful for her life. Tituba’s ethnic background left her victim to stereotypes that previous to her confession, would have most likely only sealed her dooming fate. Luckily, Tituba was able to use her knowledge of African, American Indian and English folklore to her advantage, diverting the attention away from her socially and geographically.
This leads into the deaths of the innocent people who are accused and automatically found guilty. In Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, the people of Salem are responsible for the witch hysteria. The person with the most influence on the hysteria is Abigail. In the past, Abigail had an affair with John Proctor. She gets jealous when Proctor leaves her to go back to his wife, Elizabeth.
In the novel A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi, Susanna is the daughter of a wealthy family in Salem, Massachusetts during the 1692 Witch Trials. Before the trials begin, she desperately wants to fit in and become part of a group of girls in town. However, after those girls begin accusing innocent people of witchcraft, Susannah’s parents included, she divulges the information she held in so long. This is a story of the afflicted girls lying and the words that come straight from Ann Putnam herself, capable of ending the trials once and for all. After reading A Break with Charity by Ann Rinaldi, the reader gains knowledge of the Salem Witch Trials through a young woman who experienced the commotion first hand.
As colonial Massachusetts began to recuperate from the recent King Philip's War, which ravaged though the majority of New England, another event was just around the corner. In the year of 1692 village minister Samuel Parris's daughter Betty and niece Abigail had contracted some sort of odd illness that numerous doctors could not categorize as a specific illness or disease. As many doctors came through the town of Salem to take a look at the girls, one doctor boldly made the assumption the some type of witchcraft was responsible for these girls' current state. It was due to this assumption that the witch hunt had begun, and 178 Massachusetts citizens were accused of using witchcraft or being a witch (Davidson & Lytle 42). Of these over 178 citizens three out of four were female, which made this witch hunt a gender issue (Davidson & Lytle 42).
Socially, slaves were bottom the class pyramid and were treated bad and this caused them to revolt. In Salem, Massachusetts the imagination and communication played a huge role in witchcraft trials. The talk of the devil and witches grew and soon any thingthat is abnormal or seen as not common was seen as a characteristic of the devil or a witch.Politically, strange and harsh laws were made in the colonies. Slavery was seen as white man¶s burden and how Africans were uncivilized and those coming to their plantations and working for them will make them civilized. In Salem, Massachusetts strange laws were made when thehunting of ³witches´ began.
Anyone with odd names, weird looks, or were found mumbling chants, were accused of witchcraft and were put to death. Herbal potions or homemade medicinal concoctions were thought to be witches brew, they would be confiscated and the owner taken to jail. Women were the most common gender to be accused of witchcraft. Out of all of the witch trials in England, eighty-five percent were women and only fifteen percent were men. Women sometimes wore long black dresses and were sometimes thought to be witches because of their dress.
Now, Abigail wants to eliminate Elizabeth from the equation, so she accuses Elizabeth of being a witch in hopes that Elizabeth will be hanged and John Proctor single. Abigail doesn’t see Elizabeth as a human; she completely devalues her life by calling her a witch and doing what she can to have Elizabeth killed. A modern day issue that relates to The Crucible by devaluing human life is human trafficking, or modern day slavery. It is estimated that about 20.9 million people are living in slavery today, which is more people than the total amount of people brought from Africa to America during the slave trade between the 17th and 19th centuries ("New ILO Global Estimate of Forced Labour: 20.9 million victims"). These people are forced to work for little or no pay, often sold into a lifetime of rape, abuse, and intense labor, sometimes as young as five or six years old.