The Crucible

A New Perspective on Salem College

The name Salem or any mention of the Salem witch trials almost always turns heads, and usually this sudden attention is not due to a reputable history. Most people think of the Salem witch trials and begin to picture an out of control environment. Such a connotation results from a number of sources, a popular one being Arthur Miller’s famous play The Crucible, which was later adapted into a movie. The play and movie, both dramatically enticing pieces of work, are only somewhat historically accurate, lacking the substance needed in order to truly comprehend why or how such devastating events like the witch trials could occur. With so many mythicized events and perspectives, it can be challenging to find a source that distinguishes fact from fiction. Consequently, it is refreshing to find a book that depicts the Salem witch trials in way that is accurate and not dramatized. Most importantly, a historical outlook is needed to precisely portray the witch trials; and that is where Boyer and Nissenbaum’s Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft stands out from the rest.

Rather than focusing on the obvious, Boyer and Nissenbaum corroborate the witchcraft hysteria by providing extensive research about the social, economic, and...

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