This essay by Elizabeth Spurlin won Third Place in the Hare & Bell 2023 Writing Contest.


The time of the Salem witch trials was a period in history when one was always looking over a shoulder for fear that a neighbor was a witch or, worse yet, that you had done or said something that would lead to an accusation against you. Men, women, and children were all bewitched and accused of being witches; no one was safe. Your family or closest friend could turn on you without warning. A prior misdemeanor or a threat said in anger could be held as evidence against anyone. What happened during the 1600s that led to such devious events? The answer lies in the culture, politics, and religious isolation of the seventeenth century Puritans.