Essay on The Salem Witch Trials

1443 Words Dec 14th, 2016 6 Pages
Hoffer, similar to Boyer and Nissenbaum, believes there were many factors that contributed to the conception of the Salem Witch Trials. He uses a broader look at time, history, law, sociology and geography to explain the Salem trials. Hoffer begins his arguments by stating that “there is truth in the generalization that the people of the seventeenth century were by and large more gullible than their eighteenth century descendants. In the 1600s, popular or ‘vernacular’ belief in witches was repeated in the writings of the most learned men. Only at the end of the century did people of wealth and education begin to divorce themselves from folk opinion.” When the Salem Witch trials finally came to an end, people proceeded to prevent similar events from happening. Perhaps the Salem events helped subdue the notion of traditional witchcraft.
However, Hoffer comments that even “in our enlightened time, when the folk beliefs and superstitions of the seventeenth century seem so far away, we entertain superstitions suited to our own fears. They are the folklore of racial prejudice and animosity toward foreigners. They are the folklore of gender-bashing and gay-bashing. And we still persecute witches.” Fear is a powerful emotion that leads to drastic measures. Hoffer suggests that there was more to fear than just witchcraft and the devil in Salem. He states that “the suspicion of witchcraft fit into events occurring outside of Salem. The fear of witches rode the winds of war. A…

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