The Crucible 8 Essay, Research Paper
During the seventeenth century and well into the eighteenth century, belief in the reality of witches was widespread both in America and in Europe. Thousands of people were put to death during the period; and a few people questioned the actual existence of witches, but the only problem was how to identify one?
The Puritans accepted most readily the idea of witches existing in society. Part of this is the result in the complete acceptance of the Bible as totally accurate and would allow no debate about this matter. Moses pronounced in Exodus 22:18 thou shalt not suffer a witch to live, this became a phrase known to almost everyone in the Puritan community. When Elizabeth and John Proctor hinted that it is not proven that witches exist, the Reverend Hale was shocked and cried out: You surely do not fly against the Gospel, the Gospel-. The Reverend himself was ready to point his finger at anyone in Salem and pronounce him/her a witch if the word of God was not followed to any extremity.
About forty-five years after the Salem witchcraft trials, the Puritan minister, Jonathan Edwards, used the following imagery to characterize the depraved state of mankind: The God that holds you over the pit of Hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect, over the fire abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked; his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire It was preaching like this which prompted John Proctor to stay away from church and explain his absence as follows: I have trouble enough without I come five mile to hear him preach only hellfire and bloody damnation Others stay away from church these days because you [Reverend Parris] hardly ever mention God anymore.
As I have mentioned in the preceding section, the concept of the Devil grew out of basic tenets of the Puritan religion. The Puritans accepted completely the principle of original sin and many sermons emphasized that man was born depraved and sinful. He was depicted as existing on the verge of eternal damnation and was seen as a potential colleague of the Devil. Ministers delighted in telling the members of the congregation hat they were worms, insects, and filthy beasts.
In conclusion, there was much confusion and disagreement about how to detect a witch and just what a witch actually was. The Puritans agreed only that witches came from the invisible world and sought for some means of making them known to the visible world so as to destroy them. In their attempt many innocent persons lost their lives.