Why do you think the popular image of Salem is different than the actuality and what does this tell us about the presentation of history to the public?

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Nearly every American is at least nominally familiar with the Salem witch trials of 1692-1693. However, most popular conceptions of the Salem witch trials greatly exaggerate the facts of the event. Many people, for instance, believe the convicted "witches" were burned at the stake, when, in fact, they were hanged. These popular misconceptions probably stem from artistic license taken by authors--such as Arthur Miller--and filmmakers who embellished, changed, or ignored facts for dramatic affect, ideological reasons, or to create a smoother narrative.

The public needs to realize that there is no such thing as a film or novel which conveys a "true story." A movie or novel may be based on a true story, but all filmmakers and authors must inject their own point of view into the narrative, muddying the distinction between fact and fiction. Unfortunately, people tend to, subconsciously, let the spirit or mood of a work of art influence the way their imagination perceives the true event on which it is based.

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