Salem Witch Trials

I had an outpatient surgery done in early August, and my recovery has mostly been smooth.

I started to think about my three websites during my 2nd or 3rd week of recovery. A friend described my blogging during this time as a form of “occupational therapy,” which is true.

Upcoming posts I’m adding to my other two blogs:

First…What Did I Do While Recovering?

I paced around for 10 minutes each hour on most days to avoid blood clots. The anesthesia took at least a week to wear off.

I started re-reading a little bit of George Orwell’s 1984, but took a break when my brain started to get foggy. I hope to eventually continue and possibly post a review of it—definitely one of my favorite reads of all time.

I did passive activities like watching TV (I watched maaany episodes of Survivor). Other series I watched included:

Thanks to my boyfriend for getting discovery+, woo-hoo.

I also did some light activities like making DIY bead bracelets. My Michaels order via Instacart was a same day delivery and an awesome experience.

cat dog
My grey cat and black lab

My pets were exceedingly well-behaved during my down time, so I spent a lot of time chilling out with them in the bedroom.

Witches of Salem on discovery+

I was clicking around on discovery+ when I saw Witches of Salem.

witch howard pyle
Arresting a Witch,” by an artist I love, Howard Pyle (image from streetsofsalem)

I was interested in the historical facts as most of my knowledge about the event came from Arthur Miller’s The Crucible, which I studied for my literature ‘O’ levels in Singapore.

I’m thankful to Mrs. Pearce (my literature teacher, originally from New Zealand) and my other humanities teachers at the time, who balanced out the demanding rigor of some of the other subjects like E and Additional Mathematics.

The film was very memorable with stellar acting, so I’ll share some fun facts about the film and actors before going back to the documentary.

The Crucible (film)

OMG, two of my favorite actors in the same film.

I first watched this film when I was 15 (shown during our literature class), and once or twice more thereafter. I’ve enjoyed it greatly with each viewing and would be happy to re-watch it again.

I’m always reading the “trivia” section of IMDB film pages.

Here are the top three from The Crucible:

  • Daniel Day-Lewis met his wife Rebecca Miller, the daughter of Arthur Miller, while shooting the film.
  • Kate Winslet was considered and Drew Barrymore auditioned for the role of Abigail Williams (Winona Ryder’s role).
  • Daniel Day-Lewis didn’t bathe or shower from the time filming began to when it wrapped, in order to stay in character.

Daniel Day-Lewis had always dreamed of having Arthur Miller as a father-in-law, so I guess that was all meant to be!

Documentary Facts

Back to Witches of Salem on discovery+…I really enjoyed the historians’ commentary in all of the episodes.

A big detail I never realized was how pivotal Tituba was historically, in terms of propelling the witch hunt forward.

tituba art
Reverend Parris’s slave, Tituba, would go down in history as a purveyor of satanic magic. Here’s an 1880s engraving of her. Via Smithosonian Magazine.

I also learned a bit more about Puritanical culture of the time, and that they jailed four-year-old Dorothy Good (the daughter of Sarah Good) because her mother was accused of being a witch. Upon her release, she suffered from “grave psychological damage” for the rest of her life.

As for Giles Corey, who was 81 years old, he was indeed pressed to death by heavy stones through an old legal remedy / form of torture known as “peine forte et dure,” which translates to “strong and hard pain.” This was done to force him to plead and is the only example in American history of someone being pressed to death. He died after three long days of this excruciating torture.

giles corey
An illustration of Giles Corey’s crushing death. [Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division]

You read that right—the poor man suffered FOR THREE DAYS. I initially thought he would die within a half hour due to his old age.

He was beyond tough as nails and it was recorded that he never once cried out. There are historical references that say his last words were “more weight” (which was also reflected in The Crucible, if I remember correctly).

He refused to plead or confess as doing so meant that he would forfeit his property. His plan did work and his estate was passed to his two sons upon his gruesome death.

The infamous witch trials were truly tragic, cruel, and insane.

I kept wondering how the main accusers (a group of teenaged girls and young women, including the notorious Abigail Williams) never ran out of energy with all the seizures, lies, and “spectral visions” they proclaimed which the court used as evidence.

I’ll stop there as I don’t want to over-share and spoil it for readers who would like to check out the four-part documentary series, play, or film.

I’ll just add that the cautionary warning at the end of the series was very good, and still very relevant today with regard to the intersection of behavior, fear, and ideology.

Salem, Massachusetts

gallows hill postcard
Vintage postcard of “Gallows Hill

I used to live in Maine, which is pretty close to Massachusetts. I’d like to some day visit the area where some of these events took place.

The above postcard image may depict the approximate location of “Proctor’s Ledge.”

“In January of 2016, the Gallows Hill Project confirmed that Proctor’s Ledge, not Gallows Hill, is the site of the Salem Witch Trials hangings that occurred in 1692. The ledge is a small hill located between Proctor Street and Pope Street in Salem, Mass.”

History of Massachusetts Blog

Gallows and Hanging Trees

hanging tree
The Hanging Tree in Vulture City, Arizona

You can also check out this page on Wikipedia for a list of hanging trees in the U.S., which lists trees that were used to perform executions.

Very grisly and bone-chilling.

P.S. I would like to watch “The Witch” (2015) soon.

Resources:

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