The Salem Witch Trials

Start Free Trial

What were witches accused of?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The Salem witch trials took place in 1692 and 1693, in Massachusetts. Over two hundred people were accused of witchcraft, and twenty were executed.

Those accused were charged with various crimes which can be categorized broadly as bewitching, threatening and tormenting. Below are two examples.

Bridget Bishop (1632-1692) was accused of bewitching five young women. She was accused also of threatening any of the women who resisted and of tormenting them as well. It was alleged that she could strike a woman down just by looking at her, and that she would visit her victims as a spirit, to pinch, choke or bite them.

Sarah Good (1653-1692) was likewise accused of bewitching young women, and of possessing them so that they had violent fits. Sarah Good was very poor and was accused of using witchcraft to exercise her jealousy of those who were more fortunate than she. Sarah Good was also accused of using her witchcraft to torment her victims, specifically by sending animals, known as a witch's 'familiars', to cause them harm.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team