So, yeah. It’s more homework.
Theory #1 Disease
Ergot is a fungus that grows on grain in warm and damp conditions, and grows a hard structure on the grain.
If one were to consume Ergot you would experience burning sensations, hallucinations, seizures and convulsions.
Ergot poisoning could be responsible for the accusations of witchcraft as it matches the symptoms and can also cause hallucinations.
I think that it was extremely likely that Ergot caused the Salem Witch Trials, as it matches the symptoms, and also can cause hallucinations, although it may not be the sole cause, I think it was the main one.
Theory #2 Jealousy
Salem Village was different from Salem Town in many ways, for example, they had economic differences in the form of Salem Village being substantially poorer than Salem Town.
The people of Salem Village were much poorer and generally less respected which may have been the source of the resentment.
The separation of Salem Village from Salem Town caused class distinction to grow, and resentment too. Another effect of them being separated was it prevent them from hearing each other out.
I don’t think that jealousy caused the Salem Witch Trials, as it doesn’t seem to have been that much of a problem for them, although they were annoyed by each other; although, it may have played a part.
Theory #3 Strict Rules
Life as a Puritan child was extremely boring, as they discouraged, play, imagination and toys.
Puritan children were discouraged from using their imagination because they thought it was a sin.
I don’t believe it was fair for the puritans to judge children at the same level as adults, as they don’t have the same level experience as adults, nor do they have fully developed brains.
I don’t think that this was the cause of the Salem witch trials, although, it may have influenced it, as they wouldn’t have much experience in what is imagination and what isn’t, and it may have been semi-spiteful against adults.
Theory #4 Strict Adherence
Three words that describe Puritan life are strict, boring and sheltered.
Two examples of how strict Puritan life are: they would fine you for not going to religious gatherings, and anyone with a different opinion would be banished.
The Puritans enforced the idea of having the accusations of witchcraft being true by having government intervention to support them.
I don’t think this was the sole cause, but it may have played a large part. In my personal opinion, this would have made up to about 35% of the cause for the Salem Witch Trials.
First, the Salem Witch Trials have been attributed to many possible causes, including things such as Ergot poisoning, strict social rules, and strict adherence to religion. Each of these possible reasons can match parts the records in nearly all of the necessary areas, but, alone, one of these theories could not account for all factors. Therefore, the logical conclusion is that it was a combination of these causes. From the evidence provided, I have deducted the causes that are the most responsible are, in order, Disease, Religious adherence and Strict social rules.
My analysis of prior mentioned factors leads me to believe that disease, specifically Ergot poisoning, were the main cause for the accusations leading to the Salem Witch Trials. I was lead to believe this by the fact that the symptoms of Ergot poisoning match those reported by the accusers, while also containing a less refined form of LSD, which would allow for hallucinations. Ergot also prefers to grow in warm and damp conditions which could be found in the swamps surrounding the town of Salem, making a reasonable assumption to believe that the fungus may have spread into food stocks, which then lead to Ergot poisoning.
One of the flaws with this theory is that why weren’t the other townsfolk reporting the same symptoms; but, to this I provide a solution: as the afflicted lived in the outskirts of town, which was where they did most of the farming, it is possible that they had separate food stocks that got infected, instead of a town central stock being infected. While it is possible that others would still be infected, as the infected may have sold some of their food to the rest of town, it would have taken longer to show up, which is supported by the fact that after the first two cases, in a few weeks three others had fallen ill and showed the same symptoms.
In the cases where it was not solely caused by poisoning or hallucinations, some of the other theories come into play, for example, when Ergot poisoning occurred, instead of taking those afflicted to a doctor, they immediately thought that it was a curse. This could be attributed to them being fiercely religious, and having little understanding of what else could have been the cause. That, in conjunction with mob mentality may have made it so people who would have offered a different cause for the “curse” may have been scared into silence for fear of being called a witch themselves. In the rare case where even with these two possible explanations there is something that cannot be answered by them, for example one of the first accusations, which was of two children accusing their caretaker of being a witch. If only thought upon briefly, there isn’t a clear answer; but, this can be solved with one last theory, which is that because Puritan children were told not to express their imagination, the children either imagined some of the things they used in the accusation, or, in this case, as we also know that their caretakes told them stories of magic, and did magic tricks for them, they felt guilty of expressing their imagination, and blamed someone to help elevate their guilt. This is further supported by the fact that the first few accusations were from children.
I believe that from the evidence provided that there is no single reason for the Salem Witch Trials, instead the culprit takes the form of a amalgamation of several different reasons. I personally think that the two main reasons were disease and strict religious adherence, with disease being the main reason of those two. I believe this because of the symptoms matching those reported by the accusers, while also including the possibility of hallucinations.