Why does Tituba confess so readily? What does her confession initiate?

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mrs-campbell eNotes educator| Certified Educator

To answer this question best, it helps to put yourself in Tituba's situation.  She holds a very inferior position in her society; she is a slave, and her worth is not counted for much.  To start off, she is asked by a prominent member of the town, Mrs. Putnam, to conjure spirits for her, to find out if any evil spirit had killed off Putnam's babies.  Mrs. Putnam is a friend of Tituba's master, Parris.  Also, Abigail, Parris's niece, asks her to make a charm.  So, you have two white women that are close to her master coming to her and begging her to do these things.  Then, she gets caught at doing them.  She could be punished severely--sold, whipped, taken away, any number of things.

THEN, to top it all off, she has Abigial, who "begged [her] to make [a] charm," blaming the entire scenario--the dancing, the pot with the frog--on Tituba.  Abby cracks, screeching out, "Tituba!  Tituba made me do it!"  Abby was afraid of getting in trouble for the dancing and spell-casting, so she blames Tituba for doing it.  Now, everyone in the room turns on Tituba.  Imagine an entire roomful of people bearing down on you, one being your master, and then Reverend Hale, putting tons of pressure on you.  Parris threatens a good whipping if Tituba doesn't confess to witchcraft, and Hale is in her face, demanding that she confess.  Then, his key words are that if she does confess, it will be much easier for her; she won't be punished as badly.

So, look at her options.  She can NOT confess and deny the entire thing, and end up being accused of being a witch and being hanged and whipped, OR, she can confess and blame someone else, and not be whipped or hanged.  She can pass all possible repercussions on to some other poor soul.  So, she chooses the latter option, confessing so that she can get out of punishment.

A soon as she does confess, she is praised by Hale as an angel sent from God to root out evil.  She is treated kindly, with love and affection.  Abby, one smart cookie, sees this turnaround and thinks to herself, "Hey, I think I'll try that," and starts "confessing" and blaming others for bewitching her.  The other girls follow suit.  So Tituba's confession initiates all of the accusations that follow that lead to the witch trials.

I hope that those thoughts help; good luck!

dbrooks22 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Tituba confesses so readily to get a reprieve from the beating she is receiving. Hale and Parris threaten to hang her if she does not cooperate. It is then that she realizes the truth is not going to save her. She can see that the only thing that will save her now is for her to go along with the girls’ story and to push the blame on someone else.

The result of her confession is an immediate acceptance by Hale. She is comforted and told that they will protect her if she will give the names of those she has seen with the devil, Sarah Good and Goody Osburn. Once Tituba does this, Abigail sees a chance to gain control of the situation. She also tells Hale that she has seen Sarah Good and Goody Osburn. Abigail then adds another name to the group, Bridget Bishop. These accusations awaken Betty from her bedridden state, and she joins in with the accusations, causing a frenzy among the girls who were in the forest who then join in with the chant of names.   

Tituba's confession is the beginning of a witch hunt that will destroy the lives of many in Salem.