How Did The Salem Witchcraft Trials Reflect Attitudes Toward Women And The Status Of Women
The Salem witchcraft trials, according to author Carol Karlsen, reflected attitudes towards the status of and attitudes towards women in Colonial New England. In these colonies, women were held in relatively high regard, but much was expected from them. Although families and wives were highly valued in the Puritan culture of New England, Puritanism reinforced the idea of almost total male authority. As a result, women were expected to marry and to almost fully devote themselves to the needs of their husbands and families.
In Carol Karlsen 's The Devil in the Shape of a Woman, she demonstrated through deep examination of records from New England that a vast majority of women who were accused of witchcraft were widows who owned property or women who never even married. These were, of course, the women who did not follow the trend of living in a male-dominated family as a submissive wife. As Karslen concluded, these women seemed threatening to many people, including women, because they were rare anomalies to the accepted norm. As a result, they were vulnerable to accusations of witchcraft.
The accusations of witchcraft towards these women in New England says much about the Puritans ' dedication to, or reliance on, their faith. They believed in a certain type of family and role for its members, and whenever something did not go according to their beliefs, they…