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Ahana Gaurav

on 11 September 2013

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Transcript of Witchcraft

Witchcraft Trial

Our uninformed opinion
Witchcraft seems bizarre and unfamiliar because we don't know much about the topic. Throughout history, witchcraft has been looked down upon; therefore, we want to acquire more information about how stereotypes and past events in history have influenced and stayed the same in today's modern world.
Why is this worth studying?
The majority of society's knowledge of witchcraft has solely come from literature or film. Thus, their information most likely is inaccurate. Unawareness causes people to misjudge and assume, thus creating a fear of the unknown.
First Witchcraft Trial Resulting in Execution
The first women to be hanged because of a witchcraft accusation was Bridget Bishop. In Salem, Massachusetts, in 1692, Bishop was accused of witchcraft for the second time by several victims. Claiming that they were in pain, many girls blamed Bishop for acts of witchcraft. Their accusations were probably affected by Bishop's strange way of life and flamboyant wardrobe. On to her third marriage, Bishop often fought publicly with her husbands and held parties late at night. During this time in history, the Puritan way of life contrasted strongly with Bishop's habits (Linder.)
Details about the trial
Why did we choose this topic?
Witchcraft can often be misjudged for what it truly is. In history, people have been persecuted for practicing witchcraft. Ever since then, followers of Wicca have been seen as eccentric and peculiar. Also, witches have been used as villains in literature and film. Many popular movies, TV shows, and novels have portrayed witches as old, ugly, and evil. For example, movies like “Hocus Pocus” have depicted witches as their stereotype: hideous hags who hate children and have selfish intentions. These stereotypes have caused ignorance and unawareness in the modern world.

The main accusers were Mercy Lewis and Ann Putman as well as many others. Not only did these women accuse Bridget, but also her brother-in-law claimed she "sat all night conversing with the Devil" (Linder). As a result of the trial, Bridget Bishop was hanged. While months passed before another execution occurred, this trial caused a witchcraft craze in Salem. After the trial, months passed before another execution occurred but soon after, a witchcraft craze in Salem was a direct result of the trial (Linder.)

If they had been informed...
Things would have been much different. Several of those accused would not have been executed, and possibly not tried at all. If the residents of Salem had been aware of witchcraft, those who practiced it would have been accepted. Furthermore, many who were accused but did not engage in witchery were judged on their lifestyle and clothing; if the townspeople had not been ignorant, those who lived flamboyantly or contrastingly from the norm would not have been misjudged and looked down upon.

Bridget Bishop's witchcraft trial both
caused and was a direct result of
ignorance. Bishop was executed because she was misjudged and treated as a scapegoat for other problems going on in Salem at the time; The victims may have been influenced by a smallpox epidemic had broken out, the attacks by neighboring Native Americans, and the incoming harsh winters (Louis-Jacques). The Bridget Bishop trial created a chain reaction for other trials to follow. Also a cause of ignorance, people assumed witchcraft is unacceptable and related it to negative thoughts. Even today this misjudgment is still present in our modern world. For example, this year, in Papua New Guinea, violence due to witchcraft is still
present. Recently, there have been witch burnings and brutal executions by those who oppose witchery because of misconceptions (Associated Press). These events prove that those who were followers of witchcraft faced vindictive repercussions which led to other believers suppressing their beliefs.
Ignorance/ Misconception
Eliminating Misconception
To remove stereotypes, spreading the knowledge of what witchery truly is would be helpful. Also, most misconceptions about witches derive from literature, such as novels and poetry, and film, such as movies and TV shows. If writers and directors ceased to promote these stereotypes, people would be more informed of what witchcraft really is. As history proves, humans tend to believe what society tells them to believe. Rather than educating themselves on a topic, people go along with the perceived images society provides.

Our opinion
After further research of witchcraft and the Salem Witch Trials, our uninformed opinion has been reinforced. At the beginning of the project, we were unaware of the details about witchery yet we knew that witches were wrongly portrayed in historical events and literature/film. Our research shows that these misinterpretations have caused many cruel trials and executions due to ignorance and fear of the unknown.
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