The Testimon Young Women In Salem Possessed

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The witch panic started in Salem, Massachusetts hanged 19 people and inspired a wide-swept fear of the Devil and witchcraft that lasted for over a year. Historians have discussed why this panic occurred for years, producing a slew of opinions on what caused one small community to erupt into such fear. Two such historians, Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum, attempted to understand the 1692 Salem witch trials by analyzing Salem Village’s social and economic tensions dividing the community in the book Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft. Yet the two historians ignore the largest group of participants in the witch trials: women. When looking at the documents recording the events of 1692, however, a historian cannot escape the importance of the young girls who were first afflicted and started the accusations. Instead of ignoring the female accusers in Salem Possessed, Boyer and Nissenbaum should have analyzed the events starting the witch hunt in early 1692 and the …show more content…

Boyer and Nissenbaum claim that the accusers participated in “an act of collective expiation aimed at affirming a social order based on stability and reciprocal loyalty.” Yet the young girls also, according to the same historians, “momentarily broke out of their ‘normal’ subservient and deferential social role to become de facto leaders of the town and (for many, at least) the unchallenged source of moral authority.” As women trapped in a Puritan woman’s life cycle, the girls appear to have reacted by demonstrating some level of independence before becoming wives to unknown husbands. How could the young accusers both be working to restore the traditional Puritan community while also resisting a role presubscribed for women? Boyer and Nissenbaum do not address this question, ignoring a large part of how the witch hunt

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