The Salem, Massachusetts, witch trials of 1692 have fueled fears, feuds, politics and religion for the last 300 years. The events surrounding the trials still affect our society today. Many essay topics concerning the Salem witch trials can be derived from the multitude of information that we have, thanks to the documentation presented from the court transcripts themselves and the testimonies of the villagers who lived through that time of hysteria.
Reasons for Witch Accusations
In Salem in 1692, those who were tried as witches were accused for many different reasons, including not going to church, being a recluse or expressing support for others who were accused. Even aiding Wabanaki Indians in the recent wars could have put you on trial as a witch. Talking to yourself or any other "odd" behavior could have landed you an accusation. An effective essay on the witch trials can discuss the reasons many were accused as witches in Salem.
Modern-Day 'Witch Hunts'
An essay on modern-day "witch hunts" could include any lessons that we as a society have learned from the Salem witch trials. Examples of modern-day "witch hunts" include the communist hunts and the events of the early 1950s that inspired "The Crucible" by Arthur Miller. Another example is the McMartin preschool abuse trial of the late 1980s. During that trial, witnesses who would lie were planted on the witness stand and exonerating evidence was concealed. During the day care abuse trials of the 1980s, many unbelievable charges were presented, child witnesses became involved and hysteria happened, as it did in Salem.
Another essay topic is Giles Corey, also known as the Man of Iron, who suffered a public death that played a large role in the public beginning to oppose the Salem witch trials. Corey refused to plead guilty or not guilty after awaiting trial for five months in prison with his wife. Corey knew that if he avoided conviction of wizardry, his farm, which he had recently deeded to his two sons-in-law, would not become the property of the state after his death. Corey was an uneducated, 80-year-old, church-going farmer who died after two days of being pressed under heavy stones, a punishment never before seen in Salem.
The aftermath of the witch trials is a rich essay topic, for Salem and the surrounding lands took a hard hit in several ways. Crop failures, epidemics and political changes interrupted life around the village. Many villagers were left without a home and without money, due to being forced to pay large sums of money to get their loved ones out of prison. No one has been executed as a convicted witch in America since the trials, as that age marked the end of the religious witch hunts.