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Salem Witch Trials

             The main purpose of Clifford Lindsey Alderman's essay entitled "Guilt" is to present the facts about the "accusers" and the "accused" during and after the Salem Witch Trials in 1692-1693. The key question that the author is addressing is "what really caused the witchcraft delusion to begin, why did it continue to spread, and why was it never again to occur?"(178) Alderman's goal is to reveal the truth by letting the facts speak for themselves.
             One key fact is that Alderman claims that Parris had caused the "dishonor" that resulted in the death of nineteen people because the delusion began in his house. If Parris had not made such a big deal of the girl's behavior, the witch craft trials may never have occurred. Also, he started a court action against the congregation, but they fought back. They threatened to drive him and his family out of the church until he finally agreed to accept a sum of money to leave. If he had not filed the lawsuit, he would probably have remained as their minister. Next, the Putnam's greed for more land added the witchcraft hysteria. In order to take their land, the Putnam's daughter had accused innocent people among them the nurses, who were rich landowners. Finally, the girls were more than naughty: they enjoyed the intention and power they held over the adults.
             The most important information is Alderman's essay that explains why the accusations spread so rapidly centers around such human emotions as guilt, vengeance, greed and fear. To begin, Alderman entitled the essay "Guilt." If the reader takes this line of reasoning seriously that "guilt hung heavy upon many of those who had accused innocent people or had a part in sending them to be executed"(168), he then can conclude that a troubled conscience demanded repentance - repentance not only on the part of individuals, but the court as well. As an adult, Ann Putnam realized that what she did as a child was wrong.

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