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The Salem Witch Trials

            A witch is defined as a woman claiming or popularly believed to possess magical powers and practice sorcery. The Crucible, by Arthur Miller closely follows the actual events of the trials, although, a number of details had been changed. In 1692, witches became a course for concern when strange things began to happen in Salem, Massachusetts. A total of 141 people were arrested and 19 hanged due to suspicions of witchcraft. There is no simple answer however to what caused the Salem witch trials. The contributing factors that started and fueled the trials were mainly religion, politics, and the imaginations and fears of the people of Salem. .
             Salem was not exactly a pleasant place to live even before the witch trials began. Residents were divided into two groups: those who wanted to separate from the town, and those who did not. The new minister, Reverend Samuel Parris, also had opponents of his own. The Reverend Parris was generously paid in exchange for his services in Salem, which did not suit well with taxpayers. Reverend Parris had a relatively small family. He was married and had a nine-year-old daughter, Betty, and a twelve-year-old niece, Abigail Williams, who was an orphan. Abigail earned her stay by doing most of the household chores. Reading was Betty's favorite pastime. Books on prophecies and fortunes were popular among the girls. They also would form circles to act out their conceptions. Tituba, Reverend Parris" slave, would often participate in the circle. She would amuse the girls with stories of demons and witchcraft. Other girls from around town would join the circle to listen to Tituba. Soon after, Betty and Abigail began to show bizarre behavior that concerned Samuel Parris. He believed their behaviors were a form of an illness and called upon a physician. After close examination, the physician found no physical cause and concluded the girls were bewitched. .
             Puritans believed in witches and their ability to harm others.

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