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Myths and heroes: how has witch hunting evolved through the centuries?

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We are going to deal with the notion, Myths and heroes. To begin, we can define this notion. A myth is a popular belief on what social values are often based while a hero is someone who is ready to sacrifice his or her life in order to make things evolve positively. In relation to the notion, the subject of my presentation will be the witch hunting since the XVIIth century. We may wonder to what extent this theme illustrates the notion Myths and heroes. The witch hunting is a phenomenon which appeared during the XVIIth century. In fact, at this era, witchcraft was prohibited but was before anything else feared. Thus, people accused of witchcraft were considered as scapegoats and then, they were killed. During our lessons, we have study documents about the legend of witches and the McCarthyism

We can wonder: How has witch hunting evolved through the centuries?

I/ XVIIth century to first world war

Witch hunting appeared in the Early Modern Europe and was spread in America by the European colonists. The fact is that it consists in finding an innocent responsible (scapegoat), accused of being engaged in such acts as malevolent sorcery or conspiring with the Devil. A religious reform movement arose within the Church of England in the late 16th century. It was called “Puritanism”. In the third and fourth decades of the XVIIth century, the puritanism was settled in New England. It is kind of a way of life, based on very strict moral codes. The pleasure (laughing, dancing, playing cards) was prohibited. It was a sin. There is a document that we looked at this year which raises the fact that people were not allowed to wear colorful clothes. Indeed, the color meant a direct connection with the Devil. Finally, those who did not respect the Puritan Code were rejected and even more, they could be put to death.

In 1692, a group of girls in Salem, in Massachussets, began to act strangely. They had convulsions ad visions. The society, at this period, believed in predestination and people thought they were possessed by the Devil or they had been bewitched. As a consequence, 200 ppl were accused of witchcraft and 20 were hanged. In 1953, Arthur Miller wrote a play called “The Crucible”. The story is based on the events and especially the trial of the witches of Salem. The book cover represents a woman designed as responsible of witchcraft. She is an innocent victim of the Mass hysteria. She may be burned, tortured, jailed, hung, banished, drowned. The witches’ trials were unfair and the person saw as a witch was responsible for the community.

In the United States, in the 20’s, the witch-hunt can be illustrated by the oppression campaigns managed by the justice’s department. The immigration, in fact, drastically increased and the European migrants were the targets of a radicalized American society. For instance, the trial of the Italians Sacco and Vanzetti. This case was controversial. Indeed, there were only contradictory statements and the justice had barely no proofs. Even though they claimed their innocence, they were sentenced to death.

II/ The aftermath of the 2nd World War to now

The aftermath of the WW2 was marked by the increase of the USA and the USSR opposite influences on the world. While the United States advocates the democracy, the USSR’s


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