The instability of the Massachusetts government following Andros" arrest allowed what under normal political conditions would have been an isolated, though ugly, local incident to expand into a major colonial crisis. "Hysterical men and women living in Salem village, a small, unprosperous farming community, nearly overwhelmed the new rulers of Massachusetts Bay." .
"Except for the obvious fact that, as with witchcraft elsewhere, New England's accused were mostly women, the Salem cases are not easily explained. Two of the men executed in 1692 were suspected wife-beaters. Some of the accused women were viragos, others visible saints. A few were noticeably eccentric, but so were some of the afflicted. Some practiced folk magic, yet so did some of the accusers. The whole was briared in confusion." (Roach, xvii) So mostly women were accused, which really makes sense, seeing that most of the accusers were women, maybe a sense of jealously amongst the town is what erupted the whole problem. .
Accusations of witchcraft were not uncommon in 17th century New England. Puritans believed that an individual might make a compact with the devil, but during the first decades of settlement, authorities executed only about fifteen alleged witches. Sometimes villagers simply left suspected witches alone; never before had fears of witchcraft made an entire community go into a complete panic state. .
The problem in Salem Village began in late 1691, when several teenage girls began to behave in weird ways. They cried out for no apparent reason; they twitched on the ground. When community members asked what caused their issues, the girls announced that they were victims of witches, seemingly innocent persons who lived in the community. The arrest of several alleged witches did not relieve the girl's "issues", neither did church or praying. "More and more accusations were made, and at least on person confessed, providing descriptions of the devil.