The Devil


The Devil’s Shadow Essay, Research Paper

The Devil’s Shadow

Time Setting: The Devil’s Shadow by Clifford Lindsey Alderman took place in the

late seventeenth century from 1692-1693. This is the time period that the Salem

Witch Trials took place. The main plot of the story rested on the events

leading up to the Salem Witch Trials, the trials themselves, and the aftermath

of the trials. Detailed accounts of witch executions, the actual trials, and

the events that caused the trials were discussed in the story.

Place Setting: Most of the action in this story took place in Salem,

Massachusetts. This was the birthplace of the witchcraft hysteria and it was

also the actual site of the Salem Witch Trials. The town of Salem,

Massachusetts in the late seventeenth century was a small puritan community that

was largely uneducated and very superstitious. Since many lacked education,

they did not understand many events that happened in their daily lives. Many

things that went wrong in their daily lives would be blamed on witchcraft or

sorcery. Such common things as burnt bread or broken plates would be blamed on

the supernatural. Many people, especially the uneducated, firmly believed in

the existence of witches and warlocks. They believed that such individuals had

the power to perform “black magic” that caused some kind of trouble. Every time

something bad happened they would blame it on witches and witchcraft.

Main Characters: One of the main characters in this story was Tituba, an

African slave woman from Barbados. She was purchased in Barbados by a merchant

named Samuel Parris. She lived in Barbados until Samuel Parris brought her to

Salem to work as his servant. She was known to practice Obeah, an African cult

sorcery. People who performed or practiced Obeah were said to be able to

predict the future, make magical charms, and drive away evil spirits. Tituba

was accused of teaching witchcraft to a small group of girls in Salem.

Samuel Parris, another main character in this story, was a merchant who

attended Harvard University. He was the owner of Tituba and her husband. He

had studied to become a minister before he left Harvard. He was a business man

who traded slaves, sugar, and rum in Barbados. Things began to not work out for

him when he started making less and less money. He gave up his career as a

merchant in 1689 and moved to Salem to become a minister.

Other main characters in this story include the girls that were taught

witchcraft by Tituba, the judges in the courtroom, and the men and women who

were accused of witchcraft.

Two Important Events: One important event in this story was when the hysterical

girls are assumed to have been influenced by Tituba’s witchcraft. This event

fit into the story because it triggered the witchcraft hysteria that followed it.

Many people suddenly became accused after the girls became associated with

Tituba and witchcraft. This event gave a good illustration of life in the late

seventeenth century by showing how paranoid people were about the presence of

witchcraft in their society. They were ready to believe that people were

witches at the drop of a hat, and because of this, they unjustly accused and

murdered hundreds of people. This can be seen as the starting point of the

witchcraft hysteria in Salem that killed so many people.

Another important event in this story was when everything began to get

out of control and people were being accused of witchcraft by the dozens. It

became a choice on whether or not you were going to accuse someone else in order

to save yourself. People that were accused just accused different people in

order to save themselves from hanging. Soon, everyone was accusing everyone

else, and the trials had gone into utter chaos. This changed the course of

history because it made people realize how pointless the while witchcraft

hysteria really was. It was also the first step towards the end of the hysteria.

Class Differences in Society: By reading this story, I learned about the class

differences in the society of Salem in the late seventeenth century. The fact

that all of the blame was put on an African American slave woman from the start

shows that the higher class people tended to blame the lower class people for

their problems. Also, people accused of witchcraft instantly became looked down

on in society. This relates to the fact that people tended to accuse people

that were already looked down on by society in order to lend credibility to

their accusation. All of these things have helped me to realize that class

differences are evident in every society. It has also led me to believe that

class differences significantly affect the outcome of many historical events.

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