Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-Century Massachusetts

By Richard Weisman | Go to book overview

6
The Identification of the Malefic Witch

Before 1692, it was from the communities rather than from official directives by the state that the impetus for legal action against witchcraft arose. Here, as already observed, the culpability of the witch consisted neither in complicity with Satan nor in conspiracy against the state but in the willingness to make use of malefic magic. Thus, in the pre-Salem litigations, it was in the form of testimony alleging specific damage or injury that the courts of New England received evidence of witchcraft from the villages of New England.

Yet, if the initial identification of the witch came from below, the response of officials was nonetheless crucial in establishing this identification as a legal fact, for while the accusation embodied the popular emphasis upon the witch as doer of harm, the prosecution provided the vehicle for the expression of theological concerns. In the actual production of witches, the conflict between popular and theological audiences over the definition of witchcraft resolved itself into a dispute between the terms of accusation and the terms of prosecution.

For purposes of analysis, then, it is useful to conceive of the production of witches in pre-SalemNew England as an outcome of the articulation of two distinct sequences of imputation. The first of these sequences consisted in the stages by which members of the community organized their perceptions of malefic harm into formal accusations against particular persons. The second sequence entailed the validation or invalidation of popular testimony according to criteria that carriedthe authority of the state. In this chapter, it is the first of these sequences leading to the identification of the malefic witch that will constitute the focus for discussion.

In the following sections, an attempt is made to demonstrate that the selection of witches constituted both a response and a creative adaptation to a specific social and political context. Recent contributions to the investigation of European witchcraft beliefs have established that

-75-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Witchcraft, Magic, and Religion in 17th-Century Massachusetts
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 267

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.