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The Lesson of the Salem Witch Trials for Future Generations

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“You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right” - Rosa Parks. What is the right thing? Throughout society, people have been fighting to do the right thing. From America fighting for their freedom, to women's equality. Sometimes doing something right changes society, other times no matter how hard people try, evil takes over. As in the case of the Salem Witch Trials, evil won. Abigail Williams and a group of young girls were accused of witchcraft. They decided that accusing other innocent townspeople would turn the blame away from them. Which it did, however, causing an even bigger event. 1692 to May of ‘93, a time that will infamously live forever. Study shows the inflicted girls were not actually being visited by the devil, there were more significant causes describing the social beliefs of the time.

From the start of the trials, Abigail Williams has changed the ideas of witchcraft on the society. “When Abigail seizes upon the device of accusing others to deflect blame away from herself, she sets in motion the forces of envy, greed, and malice” (Sundstrand, 1). Abigail, as do other townspeople, see an out in the accusation of witchcraft. They decide that accusing other people in the community of siding with the devil can turn the blame off of themselves. By doing this, she is falsely accusing innocent people in society. Which leads to the townspeople standing up for what they believe in, consequently that turns into death.

After debating, Proctor decides to tell Judge Danforth the truth about his affair with Abigail. By doing this, he is showing society that Abigail is not the saint they all think she is.

“Proctor protests that the children have been lying and that the Putnams are guilty of collusion, Danforth replies that he has found their evidence convincing” (Porter, 1). Judge Danforth does not have clear, true evidence on either side. He is going off of the ‘evidence’ Abigail is giving him and the jury. Abigail does not have clear evidence either, she is making up stories so the blame will be turned away from herself. When someone else tries to defend themselves, it seems as though Judge Danforth does not want to go through a whole new problem. Consequently, he turns it down and says that the evidence is not convincing enough.

As the problem grows, townspeople are starting to develop their own opinions about the trials. “Danforth is joined to Abigail and the forces of evil and Hale becomes an advocate of the individual with Proctor” (Porter, 1). Towards the end of the trials, some townspeople start to separate from each other. For example, Hale and Danforth are beginning to create other opinions about what is happening, and who is telling the truth. Danforth is taking the easy way out and siding with Abigail and the girls. Hale is siding with Proctor and fighting for life and truth.

In the beginning of the trials, many townspeople including Reverend Hale believe Abigail and the girls were telling the truth. However, as things started to progress, Hale and other people in the community started piecing things together. “Hale doubts that Abigail would accuse Elizabeth just to be spiteful” (Derosa, 137). In the beginning of the trials, Reverend Hale does not know what to believe, because it is all so new. Everyone is fooled by Abigail and the girls. For example, Elizabeth believes that Abigail has accused her, because Abigail wants revenge. Hale does not see how that could be true, because Abigail seems like the angel.

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Revenge, greed, and money can turn even the kindest people into animals. As seen, during the Witch Trials, tons of citizens in the town of Salem would turn innocent people in for witchcraft. “Every single person can avail himself of the opportunity to wreak his own personal vengeance on his neighbour” (Bonnet, 1). When the time comes, people can become extremely selfish and greedy. During the trials, if someone wants more land or money, they accuse their neighbor or friend to receive it. For example, the Putnams accuse their neighbors of witchcraft for their land and money.

Anyone can and will betray anyone. “Townspeople turn on one another, profiting from their neighbors’ misfortunes, wreaking vengeance for real or imagined grievances, substituting spite and fear for love and trust” (Sundstrand, 1). Revenge, greed, and profit can make someone extremely selfish and devilish. Throughout the trials, greed and revenge took over people's lives to the point where death was inevitable for some citizens.

John Proctor has definitely sinned throughout his life, and he knows it. The affair with Abigail has made a whole in his relationship with his wife, Elizabeth. “. . . besides answering a formal charge, must satisfy his own conscience about his innocence” (Porter, 1). Throughout the trials, John Proctor starts to realize he wants to make his wife and sons proud. Most of all, he wants to make himself proud, consequently he chooses to die over lying to live. By choosing to die, John Proctor is actually content with his life and can move on.

After contemplating on making the moral or immoral decision, Proctor decides to not sign his life and dignity away. “John Proctor. . . is a man capable of infidelity, but he nonetheless chooses to die to preserve his own dignity. . .” (Abbotson, 186). If Proctor wants to, he can easily lie to save his life. However, he would have to give up his name and dignity for lying. Say Proctor gives up his name, that guilt will forever linger inside of him. His sons will also have to live with the name. Proctor does not want to do that to his sons, but most importantly, to himself.

People will do anything to live, if you give them a reason. Townspeople during the trials would accuse other people to turn the blame away from them. “All the same, The Crucible has a strong emphasis on everybody else, showing how people accuse others in order to save themselves” (Perret, 1). The trials show how many of the citizens in Salem accuse other citizens so they can save themselves. Abigail is the best example for the false inmoral accusations. She has accused many young women so the blame would turn away from her. Abigail has witnessed her parents be brutally murdered, her conscience is bruised and damaged. Accusing innocent townspeople of witchcraft will not affect her like it would affect other people.

There are studies showing how the girls that were inflicted did not actually get visited by the devil, there were other rather significant causes describing the social beliefs during the time of the Salem Witch Trials. Without the factors or vengeance, the false accusations, and the morals of the Puritan society, the Salem Witch Trials would have had a very different outcome. In any case, the trials show the human nature of the people in the community. Revenge and greed, being the reason a neighbor has been hung. People will do anything to save themselves. However, there are those couple people you can count on that would never betray a friend. The Salem Witch Trials were a lesson for future generations, setting the example on how people act under dire circumstances.

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The Lesson of the Salem Witch Trials for Future Generations. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 21, 2024, from https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-lesson-of-the-salem-witch-trials-for-future-generations/
“The Lesson of the Salem Witch Trials for Future Generations.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022, edubirdie.com/examples/the-lesson-of-the-salem-witch-trials-for-future-generations/
The Lesson of the Salem Witch Trials for Future Generations. [online]. Available at: <https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-lesson-of-the-salem-witch-trials-for-future-generations/> [Accessed 21 Feb. 2024].
The Lesson of the Salem Witch Trials for Future Generations [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Feb 21]. Available from: https://edubirdie.com/examples/the-lesson-of-the-salem-witch-trials-for-future-generations/
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