Carol Karlsen The Devil In The Shape Of A Woman Analysis

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Carol Karlsen 's The Devil in the Shape of a Woman: Witchcraft in Colonial New England provides a sociological and anthropological examination of the witchcraft trends in early New England. By examining the records, Karlsen has created what she suggests was the clichéd 'witch ' based on income, age, marital status, etc. She argues that women who had inherited or stood to inherit fairly large amounts of property or land were at particular risk, as they "stood in the way of the orderly transmission of property from one generation of males to the next." These women, Karlsen suggests, were targeted largely because they refused to accept "their place" in colonial society.
"The story of witchcraft is primarily the story of women . . . ." Karlsen argues for the relevance and importance of women’s roles in the panic of witchcraft fear in 17th Century American society. She subtly contests that specific interests were at work in the shaping of witchcraft accusations; book elaborates that a specific type of woman risked accusation based on her demographic representation in society. Karlsen further elaborates on her theme with,
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Karlsen leaps to the present with two short paragraphs concerning the connection of early America belief in witchcraft influencing modern thinking and fascination with historical witchcraft. She asserts, "the continuing power of woman-as-witch in our collective imagination"; she addresses the issue of the power that continues to mold and shape the perception of witches and witchcraft in modern America. Why is this relevant to the book and her original story? Why would she throw this in? Pondering these questions led to the conclusion that the reference to current thought links the "woman-as-witch" ideology to the current emphasis on female empowerment prevalent in feminist writing today. She subtly interjects a commentary on the absence of sufficient historical research concerning the role women played in shaping our society, past and

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