The monster of Salem

When Tituba, Osborne, and Good were put in jail to await formal trial, Salem residents set about eradicating other

Words to Know amnesty: pardon devastation: physically or mentally destroyed elicit: to draw out embellish: add to in an exaggerated way gruesome: disgusting jeer: making fun of jurisdiction: area of legal coverage, as in a court system pardon: excuse rebuked: strongly criticized reign: rule reprieve: pardon rivalry: competition specter: ghostly figure strife: suffering

As Elizabeth Proctor tried to reason with the courts, the "afflicted" girls screamed, moaned, and convulsed.

Reproduced by permission of North Wind Pictures Archive.

witches from their midst. At this point fear and politics merged to become the monster of Salem. Under the influence of their politically motivated relatives, the girls began pointing fingers at more people, some of whom were highly regarded members of the community. The first such victim was Elizabeth Proctor, wife of tavern owner John Proctor (see biography entry). She publicly questioned the validity of the girls' fits, suggesting that there was more to the hearings than simple accusations of witchcraft. Elizabeth was more outspoken than her husband, but he supported her right to express her doubts, thus bringing himself under suspicion. Although the Proctors were not involved in local land disputes, they posed a threat to the Put-nams, a family who wielded considerable power in Salem Village (see Chapter 3). The main accusers of witches were Ann Putnam, Sr. and Ann Putnam, Jr. (see biography and primary source entries), wife and daughter, respectively, of Salem Village leader Thomas Putnam. Joseph Putnam, Thomas's own brother, reportedly backed Elizabeth Proctor's statements.

As Elizabeth Proctor tried to reason with the courts, the "afflicted" girls screamed, moaned, and convulsed.

Reproduced by permission of North Wind Pictures Archive.

According to records, as related by Rice, Joseph went to Thomas's house and warned him not to spread his "foul lies" any further in the family. The Proctors' protests and Joseph Putnam's warning marked the beginning of doubt that soon caused a separation between those who believed the evidence and others who dared to resist the hysteria. Such vocal opponents as the Proctors and Putnam managed to keep some people from joining in the frenzy, but their efforts were not enough to stop the tide of accusations.

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