John Hale, A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft

As you read for this week, ask yourself why John Hale and Cotton Mather came to different conclusions about the meanings of the witchcraft outbreak in Salem.
Cotton Mather, Wonders of the Invisible World. Read from the beginning through “Enchantments Encountered” (stop when get to “A Discourse on the Wonders of the Invisible World”); Begin reading again at “The Trial of GB” and read all of the trials (stop at “The Devil Discovered”). Available at
John Hale, A Modest Inquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft. Available at

Paper 2: 4-5 page paper comparing Hale and Mather’s perspectives on the Salem trials

These are the questions I had hoped to go over yesterday in class. They should help you as you work on your next paper.

a. How do the two authors think about the relationship between God and the Devil?

b. How do the authors think about the relationship between New England and the devil. Is witchcraft more or less likely to be practiced in New England and why?

c. What sorts of proofs are reliable evidence of witchcraft and why? What alternate explanations does each provide (or reject) as explanations for the widespread confessions.

d. Why does Cotton Mather concentrate in detail on a handful of cases while John Hale instead gives a general overview of the trials. How does each method help to make the author’s point?

e. On the basis of interior evidence and the background I have given you, what do you think prompted each author to write?

f. Why does each author believe that God allowed the witch trials to happen?

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