Cotton Mather's "The Wonders of the Invisible World" and Witchcraft in Salem
GRIN Verlag, 2007 - 36 pages
Seminar paper from the year 2006 in the subject English Language and Literature Studies - Literature, grade: 2,0, Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, course: Proseminar: Imagining America: 17th Century American Literature, 8 entries in the bibliography, language: English, abstract: The Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692 represent a cruel part of New England history. Twenty people were killed after they were accused of being witches or wizards. Dozens were imprisoned. One of the key figures today around the trials is Cotton Mather. Although he was not directly involved in accusing or judging the people, he wrote a book about the trials, called The Wonders of the Invisible World. In this book, he listed the different indicators about how to discover someone practicing witchcraft. This essay will concern Cotton Mather's arguments concerning witchcraft, their origin, and his theories about their treatment. The trials in Salem will play an essential part, because the practices during the trials show how witchcraft was proved then, regardless of the guilt of the accused. It was impossible for an accused person to escape punishment in Salem and Mather's and his colleagues arguments served as additional justification for killing innocent people in Salem.
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Page 3 - An Army of Devils is horribly broke in upon the place which is the Center, and after a sort, the First-born of our English Settlements; and the Houses of the Good People there are fill'd with the doleful Shrieks of their Children and Servants, Tormented by Invisible Hands, with Tortures altogether preternatural.
Page 4 - ... them to undue Punishments. As for our English Divines, there are not many greater Casuists than Mr. Perkins ; nor do I know any one that has written on the ,/ Case of Witchcraft with more Judgment and Clearness of Understanding : He has these Words,2 " If a Man being " dangerously sick and like to die upon suspicion, will take " it on his death, that such an one has bewitched him, it is " an allegation which may move the Judge to examine the " Party, but it is of no moment for Conviction.
Page 5 - What is true is the fact that Cotton Mather would not have condemned a single defendant on the ground of spectral evidence alone; and it is probable that he regarded all the other evidence as too weak to justify the taking of human life
Page 5 - This was considered next in force to the actual seeing a man commit a crime. It was a special kind of sight
Page 3 - He had managed both to cure them and to suppress the accusations they made after they came under his care.
Page 3 - He claimed that witches, having signed the Devil's book, were agents of the Devil in his plot to destroy the church.
Page 7 - The style and form of the questions indicates that the magistrates thought the women guilty
Page 12 - Mather was not directly responsible for the outbreak of the witchcraft horror in Salem village in 1692, but he supported the magistrates.