Salem Witch Trials Historical Background - Essay

Historical Background

(Literary Criticism (1400-1800))

George Lyman Kittredge (essay date 1929)

SOURCE: "Witchcraft and the Puritans," in Witchcraft in Old and New England, 1929. Reprint by Russell & Russell, 1958, pp. 329–74.

[In the following excerpt, Kittredge asserts that belief in witchcraft was common throughout history and points out that the witchcraft trials in the American colonies were remarkably limited in number.]

… It is frequently stated, and still oftener assumed, that the outbreak at Salem was peculiar in its virulence, or, at all events, in its intensity. This is a serious error, due, like other misapprehensions, to a neglect of the history of witchcraft as a whole. The...

(The entire section is 29270 words.)