Rachel Giese December 22, 2010 Mr. Clark 7th hour Book Report Witch Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials Marc Aronson’s Witch Hunt: Mysteries of the Salem Witch Trials, is a very dark and critical analysis of the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600s. Marc Aronson, a historian, goes over countless facts, myths, theories, and assumptions about the Salem witch trials to create a wonderful and very exciting narration of one of the most dark and devious mysteries in American history. Aronson not only states his own opinions in the book; he also allows the readers to create their own assumptions and conclusions of what happened during that terrifying time period. Back in the 1600s, there was never a logical scientific explanation. Beliefs were based on old stories of evil witches and warlocks. They were blamed for disease and sickness, theft, and “possession” of a human life. Once one was accused of witchcraft, they were basically done for. One “fact” that most people of the old days believed was that a witch could save herself from drowning. This test was performed on most accused witches. Essentially, if a woman wasn’t a witch and was tossed into a lake, she would die; but if she was a witch and somehow survived, she would be killed anyway. In a lose-lose situation, anyone who was accused of witchcraft was a doomed individual. That is why there were so many accusations of witchcraft; if someone wanted to get rid of someone they despised, all that would have to be said was, “She’s a witch! Burn her at the stake!” There goes an enemy.
The way Aronson wrote the book was very repetitive. My thoughts are maybe he wanted to prove that each accused witch was treated the same way. They all have been accused of making crops die, or making catastrophic and terrible events happen to someone. I also think that it is outrageous that African and Indian slaves were accused of witchcraft too just because of the color of their skin. In the book a woman, Tituba, was accused of bewitching two teenage girls. Some people who knew the girls even suspected that Satan himself was possessing both of the girls. It was said that Tituba was not even a person, but merely an evil ghost that was sent for the girl’s destruction. The white people of that age were very arrogant. I think they were scared of Africans and Indians because they did not understand their actions and beliefs. The author even says, “the fact that she [Tituba] was Indian was enough” (p. 68). Indians were accused of being devils in human form. Aronson talks about Cotton Mather frequently. Mather said, “Looking at Indian religion practices through [my] eyes is like having a vision of hell” (p.69). He thought that Indians were inside of their wigwams creating demons in the form of bears and snakes. Personally I think that is outrageous but I am assuming that back then this idea was completely logical. When the case of Tituba and the two girls went to court, it was one of the first trials of the Salem Witch era. I think it is crazy and downright stupid. During the trial whenever Tituba would speak the girls would go in to fits of horror, pain, and torment. If they had a grudge against her all they would have to do was act that way. Aronson also states that the witches were already, “unpopular to begin with” (p.79). They claimed that her presence alone was too evil for them to bear. That is terrible, and it makes me angry
when I read about it. Tituba finally confessed to being a witch. The trial records make it look like she was being possessed, and as she confesses about it she starts to act like an invisible devil is slapping her and trying to prevent her from saying anything to reveal her “plot”. Tituba’s testimony set the bar on what a witch was and what to look for. Her cooperation saved her life. She was, however, still sent to prison. I myself don’t believe in witches; I love the stories and idea of witchcraft but I do not believe that it was a part of any of the trials. Ann Putnam Jr. was known as the voice, and the suffering body of the accused victims. She found evidence about at least seventeen witches. She claimed she was a portal to the underworld and that ghosts spoke to her in the night telling her who murdered them. She was only twelve, and she was known as the girl to speak the “truth” about witches. There are beliefs that she was really a malicious little girl bent on the destruction of people she did not like. Accusations of witchcraft were everywhere now, ranging from the poor and unliked to the very wealthy aristocrats. I think that people started accusing their enemies in hopes that they would be killed and never bother them again. Overall, this book had very good insight on what went on in the Salem Witch Trials. I thought it was very helpful that the author included a timeline at the end of the book to help the reader understand. Also he includes an epilogue that includes not only his opinions and beliefs but also the opinions of other authors that have written books on this era. I think this allows the reader to develop their own opinion on what happened during that dark and terrible time. Those trials were a very confusing time for the people of that age. They were in constant fear of being possessed or cursed by the devil.
â€œWitchesâ€? were accused of witchcraft so people could have assurance that they could actually prevent themselves from the devil. Witches were just young, disliked, and numerous women and men that were turned into scapegoats. This book was an enjoyable narrative and definitely gave me a great insight on the trials.