Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind The 1692 Witch Hunt

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Death in Salem: The Private Lives Behind The 1692 Witch Hunt

Foulds, Diane E. Death in Salem: the Private Lives behind the 1692 Witch Hunt. Guilford, Connecticut: Globe Pequot Press. 2013. 279

Diane E. Foulds was a 10th-generation descendant of the 1692 victims accused of witchcraft. The nonfiction novel interprets the multiple individuals that were on trial. Foulds portrays the individual's family history and home backgrounds. She breaks up the novel from the accusers and the victims, to the judges and clergy. Each person's story is laid out in great detail each one building up to the trials. Every individual’s story connects into lists of marriages and political connections. Foulds described in the novel, “When Salem reached the combustion point in 1692, the most suggestible members of society – children and adolescent girls – were the first to succumb. The usual story is that the witch hunt was started in the home of Reverend Samuel Parris, when his nine-year-old daughter and twelve-year-old niece dabbled in fortune-telling – a raw egg dropped into a glass of water formed the image of a coffin. The two girls did suffer a breakdown, but what triggered it remains uncertain. Since the local doctor couldn’t come up with a medical explanation, he attributed their condition to witchcraft. The panic spread to other households, and before eleven months had passed, twenty persons were put to death (Foulds vi).” This represents that at the time, the judges and townspeople did not care for the age of the people and mostly accused girls. Men weren’t known to be practicing witchcraft. But when men were caught, they were accused as wizards. In that time period many medical problems were also linked to witchcraft if there was no cure or explanation.

The reason for Diane E. Foulds to write the nonfiction novel was to inform the readers of the Salem witch trials and how crazed it got. Also the author is a 10th-generation descendant of the 1692 victims. The purpose could also be that she was looking into her family history and how Salem became how it is now. The author used a large amount of research to find information on every individual. Each person in the novel had a connection to another in some way of marriage and the people living in their household. Many critical reviews say, “Heavy on facts, though light on narrative flair…(Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.).”