Public support and belief in the trials began to wane for several reasons. Respected ministers started to believe that some innocent people were being accused and executed for witchcraft primarily on unreliable spectral evidence. As the Reverend Increase Mather stated, "It were better than ten suspected witches should escape than one innocent person should be condemned." Also, as the accusations mounted, persons from all walks of life--rich and poor, beggar and merchant--were being accused. Additionally, the accused that originally confessed to witchcraft requested to recant their former confessions. With public confidence in the trials slipping, the cries of the afflicted were steadily ignored, and the accusations eventually stopped. See the Salem Witchcraft essay for a detailed explanation of the events, causes and aftermath of the Salem witch trials.
Think you know all there is to know about Frankenstein? Monsters? Insane scientists? Animal testing? Think again! You may be very surprised in this course which tackles the foundational works that have remained part of our cultural subconscious. This class is a brief survey of the origins of British Gothic literature. Students begin their study of this subgenre with Mary Shelley’s landmark story of a mad doctor and his creation. This seminal work stands alone. Students will be fascinated and challenged by Frankenstein and will wrestle with a number of difficult questions including the role of science, the ethics of scientific work, and the love (or lack thereof) of a creator for his creation. Robert Louis Stevenson’s short stories and cultural mainstay The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde poses further thought-provoking questions regarding friendship, worldview, and responsibility. The students’ journey continues with . Wells’ surreal and compelling The Island of Doctor Moreau , another tale that forces students to think about ethical choices. Daphne DuMaurier’s Rebecca and Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black are gripping tales. The semester ends with the enormously popular classic A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. This is a highly interactive class with lots of discussion. The course includes discussion questions, vocabulary quizzes, projects, and two papers. Because of the dialogue nature of this class, a functioning microphone will be needed. Special Note: Students can combine this class with the spring semester course entitled American Gothics to create a full year course experience which could be coined as “Survey of Gothic Literature.”
Finally, in October of 1693, so many people were doubting the guiltiness of the witches that Governor Phips, governor of Massachusetts, decided to stop the trials and the executions. They realized that the trials should not continue due to lack of evidence and credibility of the witnesses. Many people accused others of being witches if they disliked them or if they were outsiders in society. Witches on trial were encouraged to give names of their fellow witches and/or to confess to their evil deeds, and in exchange they would be granted a less severe punishment. Because of this, the witches on trial would confess even if they were innocent, and they would also accuse other innocent people of being witches. The government saw that there was no real way to make sure the person was a witch before executing them and that there was a great chance that they may be killing innocent people. People were still being accused of being witches even after the trials were suspended, but the charges were not taken seriously.