For this week’s topic of Witchcraft and the enlightenment I chose a case of an elderly woman by the name of Jane Dodson. She was tried as a witch for what they said to have been using her “divers Hellish arts and Incantations to destroy divers persons” they said that she had “lamed and distorted” a woman named Mary Palmer. I found this interesting because they had no evidence brought up against this woman, all that they had said was that she was the one who did it. However one of the diver’s persons showed up at her trial which was evidence and defense for her that she did not kill them and she was acquitted.
What I had found so interesting was the fact that this woman’s life was on the line simply because of someone else’s hysteria that she was a witch. There was no evidence she killed anyone the person who she was said to have killed could have been just napping or something as mild as that. In the reading for Ankarloo it was said, “There was of course nothing new about scepticism: witchcraft was inherently implausible, critics had long argued; it depended on cozening and credulity, and had no cast-iron Biblical Warrant” (Ankarloo, 1), which is something we can recognize as to the reasoning people of this time period used to put people on trial.
The reading that we did for this week that made me think of this as something to correlate to was the ghost story reading. The book was about superstition and how it does crazy things to people if you read it the opening line is, “few things have influenced and controlled the destiny of men so largely as superstition.” This is one of the truest things to think about when dealing with this case. The superstitions and fears of this area where the case happened is what caused this woman to almost meet death. The title of the article I looked up started out “Jane Dodson royal offenses>religious offenses” which says a lot about the article in the first place. In class especially if we look back we see that religion, some would argue, had nothing to do with the overall witch trials that were so famous in this time period but some kind of way in which to be rid of people who pissed you off in a way. This hysteria was mob mentality driven in the sense that it scared people in to being part of the greater picture and idea of the witch trials but something that started out possibly as one person being angry with another and getting that group of people all worked up in order to have someone killed by the hysteria itself.