The judges knew that the witchcraft was a myth but didn’t do anything about it. Danforth and Hathorne often rejected logical facts and refused to head testimonies proving innocence because so many people were accused. After a while, it became clear to everyone in the town, including the judges, the accusations were false. These judges instead of revealing the truth they clung to their pride and ignored what was happening in front of them. If word got out that they sent several innocent people to their deaths their reputation would be ruined and they would be out of their jobs.
As stated in Anthony Brandt’s article, An Unholy Mess, “Legally, spectral evidence was not grounds for convicting a witch. The judges in Salem, however, accepted it…” This implies that many people were being convicted on illegal evidence. They could be spared if they confessed but confessions were very rare (Brandt, p. 42) (Schiff). The fear of the Devil walking freely among Salem
The Salem Witch Trials were a gruesome part of our history in America. More than two hundred people were accused of witchcraft during years of 1692 through 1693. Historians believe that Ann Putnam Jr. and other accusers were badgered to accuse certain people. The parents (of the afflicted girls), Thomas Putnam and Reverend Samuel Parris told the afflicted girls to accuse others, were thought to be seeking out revenge for the accused. Most of the accused victims were either very wealthy or were social outcasts.
Many inmates were able to escape prisons due to shortage of staff, however. The average victim was a woman in her 40’s or older, many of which were in their 60’s (“Salem Witch Trials”). Almost all the men accused of witchcraft during the trials was related to a woman who had been accused prior. Accusations were usually directed towards colonists in the higher wealth class, in contrast to English witchcraft accusations which were directed towards the poor wealth class (Campbell). As well as humans, two dogs were shot and killed after being accused of witchcraft, showing that just about anything could be accused of witchcraft in Salem during the late seventeenth
As Hale gets to know the people of Salem who are now accused he begins to question the trials and the presence of witchcraft itself. After Elizabeth Proctor, Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey, all highly respected women of the village, are condemned Hale finally comes to his senses about the girls when he says: “I may shut my conscience to it no more-private vengeance is working through this testimony”(1208). Hale comes to the realization that the girls are using the cry of witchcraft to punish whoever they please in the town. He can no longer believe these honest Christian people are conjuring with the devil just based on the accusation of young girls and no real proof. Hale then goes against his practice to convince the accused to confess to save to their lives: Hale goes to Rebecca Nurse and Martha Corey and begs them to confess to witchcraft even though he knows they are not guilty of it.
In Europe, many of the accused witches were executed by hanging. Many practicing Christians, at the time, believed that the Devil could persuade people to use the powers that he gave them to harm others. The Salem Witch Trials occurred because of resource struggles, many women were accused and tortured, and in the end the Governor realized that it was a big mistake. (“Salem Witch Trials”, 1). In 1689, English rulers William and Mary started a war with France in the American colonies which sent many refugees into the Essex County and Salem Village.
Witchcraft was second among the hierarchy of crimes which was above blasphemy, murder and poisoning in the Puritan Code of 1641. Since England had their own witch hunts, it was said that the anxiety spread to New England mainly because of a pamphleteer Cotton Mather. It started early 1692 when the daughter and niece of Salem local minister, Samuel Parris had strange violent convulsions and loud outbursts. The only local doctor of the village which only could read but not write, then concluded that the girls were bewitched. There were three primary “suspected” witches, the minister’s slave Tituba, Sarah Good who was a beggar, and Sarah Osborne, a widower.
Witchcraft is considered to be a controversial crime and as well punishable. Due to the rise in Christa1inaity, witchcraft is regarded to be a superstition and in this wise persecution of the so called witches became common in the middle ages. The malleus Maleficarum and the other document used served as reference document in order to identify and prosecute witches, it explains the rules of evidence or acceptable procedures in which those that were suspected to be witches are subjected to torture and may eventually be put to death with proven evidence from the person involved. Women and men were usually most victims and thus were killed due to the procedures contained in the book, for reasons such as incantations, charms, conjuring and other abominable superstitions and offences, crimes e.t.c. or mainly due to false accusation.