Follow TV Tropes


Salem Witch Trials

Go To

Sep 13th 2011 at 4:55:52 PM

Since its almost Halloween I think it would be fun to discuss the most well known Witch Trials in American history.

YoungMachete from Dallas
Sep 13th 2011 at 4:59:50 PM

Well, for one thing, no witches were actually burned AT sal- blahblahblah historical trivia which no one, including me, cares about.

Fascinating subject. Same things that caused Mccarthyism, the pedophile scare, and countless other instances of paranoia caused them, from what I understand. Nowadays we're repeating that with some of the Muslim persecution in America, but luckily that's relatively low-key.

edited 13th Sep '11 5:06:38 PM by YoungMachete

"Delenda est." "Furthermore, Carthage must be destroyed." -Common Roman saying at the end of speeches.
USAF713 I changed accounts. from the United States
I changed accounts.
Sep 13th 2011 at 5:02:14 PM

A glimpse of what was to come. A shitty part of pre-US history of North America. A really, spectacularly stupid episode. Etc...

I am now known as Flyboy.
AceofSpades Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Sep 13th 2011 at 5:05:48 PM

Also, few people were actually burned. Don't know why they think everyone was. It was mostly hangings and one well known pressing.

Also, a great example of how fear can override both common and moral sense. And it's almost exactly parallel with Mc Carthyism.

Sep 13th 2011 at 5:31:45 PM

If I remember it got started because some bimbos were doing fortune telling by a slave which was not allowed in the colony.They afterwards were claiming that spirits were attacking them and the rest is history.Personally I think these little bimbos were pretending to be bewitched just because they were bored or they didn't want to get in trouble for doing witchcraft.

Also as I remember the witch trials were also a good excuse to go against one's neighbor or to get rid of someone you don't like.

Kino Relationship Status: Californicating
Sep 13th 2011 at 6:03:20 PM
Thumped: This post was thumped by the Stick of Off-Topic Thumping. Stay on topic, please.
AceofSpades Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Sep 13th 2011 at 6:22:05 PM

Calling someone bimbos doesn't exactly make your argument look good, Joyflower. Not to mention, in a repressive society such as theirs, just holding hands with a boy made you a bimbo.

That said, I think they got a bit addicted to the power they were suddenly granted. Young girls back then didn't really have a say in anything, but finding out that they suddenly have the power to get someone arrested/in trouble/brought down/whatever way you want to say it, has to feel incredibly empowering. It went straight to their heads, and eventually it stopped when they accused some judge's wife in a poorly thought out move.

Sep 13th 2011 at 6:22:23 PM

A lot of the accused were very good members of the community which should have ringed some alarms that just maybe this thing was being used to ruin people because someone really hated them or had an agenda with them.

I wasn't calling them bimbos because they were slutty or anything but I was calling them out because they lied about the situation.I am not feeling any sympathy for those girls because of the mess they started and espically when I learned some of them confessed that they lied about it.

edited 13th Sep '11 6:23:58 PM by joyflower

Pentadragon The Blank from Alternia
Sep 13th 2011 at 6:27:08 PM

I knew who made this thread before I clicked it.

I think Aceof Spades has pretty much hit the nail on the head. The trials are a great example of how irrational people can be, especially when frightened. It shares a lot of elements in common with the Red Scares and Mc Carthyism. The episode is a very good example of mass hysteria in action.

I feel a lot more sympathy for the girls involved than those who prosecuted them, but I can understand why they did what they did.

edited 13th Sep '11 6:27:45 PM by Pentadragon

carbon-mantis Collector Of Fine Oddities from North Carolina Relationship Status: Married to my murderer
Collector Of Fine Oddities
Sep 13th 2011 at 6:31:36 PM

I remember reading somewhere that there was a theory that some part of the hysteria could have been attributed to some of the townsfolk unwittingly consuming grains contaminated with ergot fungi.

Sep 13th 2011 at 6:31:39 PM

First things first they were doing something they weren't supposed to do and they had their slave Tishiba who helped them do fortunate telling when it was forbidden and then they accuse her of being a witch.I think the slave woman made up the fact that she was a witch just so she could get off easier.I lose sympathy when some of the girls confessed that they lied about it.

edited 13th Sep '11 6:33:06 PM by joyflower

LoniJay from Australia Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Sep 13th 2011 at 7:32:27 PM

I am no expert, but that is what happened in the play The Crucible, and I know that Miller (that was the author's name, right?) took some liberties with the historical story. Was there a slave called Tituba in real life?

edited 13th Sep '11 7:35:33 PM by LoniJay

Be not afraid...
Sep 13th 2011 at 7:37:36 PM

There was a slave and if I was her I would not have granted the girls' desire to do fortune telling espically with the fact that I could brutally punished for it.They quickly blamed her for being a witch even though it was them that wanted her to do the fortune telling.Tishibia confessed to being a witch but I would take her confession with a grain of salt.

LoniJay from Australia Relationship Status: Pining for the fjords
Sep 13th 2011 at 7:39:58 PM

That.. didn't really answer my question.

Be not afraid...
Sep 13th 2011 at 7:43:11 PM

There was a slave in real life called Tituba and she was also a major factor in the start of the trial.Because her testimony said that there were other witches as well which signaled that there might be others who were secretly witches.

AceofSpades Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Sep 13th 2011 at 7:51:56 PM

There was a slave woman called Tituba. As for the fortune telling; people got bored. They also claimed anything odd or strange happening was witchcraft. In any case, Tituba had less power than those girls; if they wanted fortune telling to amuse themselves than that's what they got. They were the ones in charge in that situation, not her.

Sep 13th 2011 at 7:55:03 PM

That's my major gripe is they were doing something that they were forbidden to do and I have a feeling they made up being possessed in order not to get in trouble.

edited 13th Sep '11 7:55:28 PM by joyflower

Sep 13th 2011 at 7:57:49 PM

An earlier comment seemed to imply that it's incorrect to think many witches were executed by burning and that more common methods were hanging and pressing. If you're just referring specifically to America then, yes, execution was by hanging. I don't think pressing was specifically an execution method for witchcraft, it was something like a punishment for refusing to testify but I'll stand corrected on that. But in Europe and the British Isles burning was a popular method of execution. If you were lucky you got strangled first, or had a friend who was able to slip you a sedative.

I wonder how many people's knowledge of the Salem witch hunts comes primarily from Halloween documentary specials and studying 'The Crucible' in high school. I know that's how I got mine. (I come from a country without a history of organised witch-hunting and persecution.)

edited 13th Sep '11 8:00:09 PM by raisingirl83

Karalora Manliest Person on Skype from San Fernando Valley, CA Relationship Status: In another castle
Manliest Person on Skype
Sep 13th 2011 at 8:05:41 PM

[up][up] As opposed to what? Actually being possessed? Being a Witch myself, I'm really interested to know what you think was really going on in Salem.

Stuff what I do.
Sep 13th 2011 at 8:08:12 PM

It was mass hysteria that people took advantage of in order to get even with someone or wreck their lives because they wanted to get their land.I think the other half is that people's superstitions got the better of them and made them frantic.

AceofSpades Relationship Status: [TOP SECRET]
Sep 14th 2011 at 1:00:48 AM

It's not a damn feeling, Joyflower, that's pretty much exactly what happened. Newsflash; teenage girls and children lie to get out of trouble, and they did it as much then as they do now. Then they discovered they now had all this power over other people, and it spun out of control. And then other people figured they could get their neighbor's property or get rid of that cranky old lady that was slightly strange.

Hell, read that book by Hawthorne; that's a good account of what happened.

@Raisingirl; that's exactly what happened in the Salem Witch trials. Hangings. And one guy got pressed with giant stones because he wouldn't admit to being a witch. Not confessing ensured that his sons inherited his stuff instead of it getting passed to the state or whatever. Hanging seemed to be the usual punishment in America in those days.

whaleofyournightmare Decemberist from contemplation
Sep 14th 2011 at 2:29:37 AM

Salem is what happens when the riff-raff organise themselves into a society. But yeah, they were exactly like the whole Red Scare stuff.

Dutch Lesbian
feotakahari Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer from Looking out at the city
Fuzzy Orange Doomsayer
Sep 14th 2011 at 3:27:59 AM

I vaguely recall reading that the women who were most likely to be executed as witches were ones who, in one way or another, violated gender norms.

edited 14th Sep '11 3:28:12 AM by feotakahari

That's Feo . . . He's a disgusting, mysoginistic, paedophilic asshat who moonlights as a shitty writer—Something Awful
storyyeller More like giant cherries from Appleloosa Relationship Status: RelationshipOutOfBoundsException: 1
More like giant cherries
Sep 14th 2011 at 5:08:25 AM

I'm still amused that there really was a guy named Increase.

Blind Final Fantasy 6 Let's Play
JethroQWalrustitty Uncle George from Finland
Uncle George
Sep 14th 2011 at 5:28:47 AM

I say it was the right thing to do, because there are no witches now, they musy have been nipped at the bud then. Obviously.

Yeah, there's not much to discuss. Mass hysteria, moral panic, the usual.

This love so bold goes undeclared/a joy unseen, a world unknown/a love that dare not speak its name/hidden treasure, precious stone