What are some short and long term results cause by the Salem Witch Trials?If I were alive during this particular time period but NOT accused of witchcraft or executed because of it, how would I be...
What are some short and long term results cause by the Salem Witch Trials?
If I were alive during this particular time period but NOT accused of witchcraft or executed because of it, how would I be affected personally as well as the rest of the village of salem?
Among the short term effects: Those who were accused were not only ostracized from their communities and, usually, eventually killed, but they would also lose property. Thomas Putnam is one of the people who profited from the witch trials. When the accused were out of the way, he would seize their property.
Putnam worked in concert with Reverend Parris, who also used the fear of witchcraft to grab local power. He feared that factions would cause him to lose authority in Salem. In the play, he views the fact that his niece, Abigail, and his ten-year-old daughter, Betty, were dancing "like heathens" out in the woods as a danger to his power in town:
Child. Sit you down. Now look you, child—if you trafficked with spirits in the forest, I must know it, for surely my enemies will, and they will ruin me with it....
Undoubtedly, the descendants of people such as Parris and Putnam would have benefited from their machinations through inherited wealth and community influence. Though there are no longer literal witch trials, there are still metaphorical "witch trials" or "witch hunts" in which people are accused of behavior or affiliations that are contrary to mainstream values and publicly condemned for their behavior. HUAC (House Un-American Activities Committee), led by Senator Joseph McCarthy, was an institutionalized form of witch-hunting. McCarthy's aim in the late 1940s and early 1950s was to find and professionally destroy Communists, believing that they were disseminating propaganda that was contrary to American values. Miller's inspiration for writing The Crucible was the result of these events and, particularly, his witnessing the trials of some of his friends and associates.
I think in the short term, Miller's assumptions we see in the 4th Act are true... Livestock wandering the streets, orphans roaming from house to house, and crops rotting in the fields were just a few of the known effects in that era. I would assume some of the unknown effects were relationships that never recovered from the pain of the accusations, and children who may have bore deep-seeded resentments against the church.
In the long term, obviously the impact of the hysteria the Salem Witch Trials created has not gone away. It is a focus in all major book publishers' literature series, and Hollywood doesn't leave it alone either. Many types of "witch-hunts" have happened even over the last century that have kept the reminder of the Salem Witch Trials in view. They are a good reminder to consider how far our beliefs can carry us to poorly carry out what we sometimes think is justice.