Were the Salem Witch trials necessary to protect Salem? Give three arguments for and against their necessity.

Expert Answers
jilllessa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Reverend Parris, Reverend Hale, and many members of the Salem community felt that the Witch trials were necessary to protect Salem from Satan.  The Reverends felt that the illnesses in Betty Parris and Ann Putnam were signs that Satan was at work in their town through witches performing evil acts of satanic magic. In their 17th century eyes this posed a real threat just as Communism seemed to present a real threat to our country during the Cold War, sparking the McCarthy hearings. The supporters of the witchcraft trials also felt that the accusations of the girls bore further examination.  The fear of witchcraft was very real to the people of that time and these signs and accusations seemed ominous.  

Others did not believe that the witch craft trials were necessary.  The Proctors, for example, know that there were ulterior motives by many of the accusers.  Abigail Williams was motivated by her desire not to get in trouble for dancing naked in the forest and by her desire for John Proctor.  Reverend Hale, himself, soon sees that the trials are politically and personally motivated and abandons his belief that they are necessary to protect the town from Satan.   Even Danforth, is more concerned with the reputation of the court than the actual guild or innocence of the people that he is judging.