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Hawthorne at Salem

Hawthorne - Literature

Young Goodman Brown

The Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 and "Young Goodman Brown"

Material prepared by:

Joseph R. Modugno,Department of English,
North Shore Community College, Danvers, MA

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 

In "Young Goodman Brown," one of Hawthorne's most admired and critically discussed stories, he probes the psychology of Puritan Salem's witchcraft frenzy to offer insights into the moral complexity of human nature. A dark, penetrating tale, as "deep as Dante," according to Herman Melville, "Young Goodman Brown" reveals Hawthorne at his best--skillful writer of symbolic allegory and astute interpreter of Puritan history.

Nancy Bunge comments on Hawthorne's knowledge and use of Salem history in Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction:

[Hawthorne] did not write out of ignorant fantasies about the Puritans. "Young Goodman Brown" not only presents the issue of the Salem witch trials, but a number of its characters have the names of Salem residents charged with witchcraft, and its major action takes place in the noisy pasture of the period designated as a witches' gathering place. (historical documents of the witchcraft trials)

Hawthorne does not simply provide a record of the time, he uses history to examine issues of community and individualism explaining both the madness in Salem and much subsequent madness (11). (courtesy of Twayne Publishers, New York, 1993.)

 

 

It's not surprising that Hawthorne was drawn to the witchcraft episode. His family history gave him a personal connection to the tragic events of 1692. In The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne Margaret B. Moore points out:

  • As for Hawthorne's ties with the persecution of the witches, they too [like his ties with the persecution of Quakers] are based partly on his paternal ancestors, in particular on John Hathorne (1641-1717), the third son of Major William and Anna Hathorne and an important merchant in Salem. . . . John Hathorne was also the famous "witch judge" blamed by many, such as Charles Upham, for playing a major role in the witchcraft trials in Salem and Salem Village in 1692. According to his descendant [Nathaniel], John Hathorne "inherited the persecuting spirit, and made himself so conspicuous in the martyrdom of the witches, that their blood may fairly be said to have left a stain upon him. So deep a stain, indeed, that his old dry bones, in the Charter Street burial-ground [view oneview two] must still retain it, if they have not crumbled utterly to dust" (37-38). (courtesy of University of Missouri Press, 1998)

 

His ancestors' zealous attacks against Quakers, Indians, and accused "witches" were both a source of interest and of conflict for Hawthorne, who so often explored this history and his connection to it in his writings. In "Young Goodman Brown" he powerfully weaves family facts into the plot and theme of his story and, as Edward Wagenknecht points out, "is perfectly clear-cut on witchcraft, as perhaps he had to be to purge himself in his own mind of the sins of his ancestors. In his stories the Salem outburst was a `terrible delusion,' a `universal madness,' in which `innocent persons' `died wrongfully' " (175). (from Nathaniel Hawthorne: Man and WriterOxford University Press, 1961)

Ultimately, as Michael J. Colacurcio states, the story offers a profound interpretation of the "persecuting spirit" and of late seventeenth-century Puritanism itself:

  • In "Young Goodman Brown" an entire habit of the Puritan mind is on trial, the protagonist its unwitting yet not quite unwilling victim. . . . [Hawthorne] recognizes the finality of the problem [presented] there: the difficulty of detecting a witch is distressingly similar to the radically Puritan problem of discovering a saint. They stand or fall together. . . ."Young Goodman Brown" shows us that witchcraft "ended" the Puritan world. Its logic of evidence could not stand the Devil's own test of faith (286, 312). (from The Province of Piety: Moral History in Hawthorne's Early Tales, 1984, courtesy of Dr. Michael J. Colacurcio)

 

Hawthorne and Witchcraft: The Historical Context

In seventeenth-century New England, most people shared a strong belief in witchcraft, and in the "Wonders of the Invisible World," Cotton Mather recorded the hellish workings of witches and the Devil against the Puritan experiment.

The origins of the belief in witchcraft and "specters" went back to Europe, where, by some estimates, five hundred thousand people were executed for witchcraft between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries. Prior to the Salem outbreak of 1692, almost three hundred people had been accused of witchcraft in New England; more than thirty had been hanged ("witches" were not burned in England or the American colonies).

The flair up of accusations in 1692, beginning at Salem Village (now Danvers) , spread to many other communities in Essex County, Massachusetts and was the worst and most dramatic episode of witch hunting in colonial America. When it was over, twenty people had been executed-nineteen hanged and one, Giles Coreypressed to death. More than a hundred people had been jailed, and several died during their imprisonment.

Both men and women were accused, imprisoned, and executed for witchcraft prior to and during the Salem hysteria. In colonial New England, however, almost all accused "witches" were older women, who tended to be independent and nonconfomist. An interesting study from this perspective is Carol F. Karlsen's The Devil in the Shape of a Woman (W.W. Norton, 1987).

Generally, historians have seen the Salem witchcraft hysteria as significant because it was the last time in American history that accusations of witchcraft would lead to execution. The episode and its aftermath also marked the end of Puritan authority in New England and, with dawning rationalism, the belief in devils striking out from some "invisible world."

Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 in "Young Goodman Brown"

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
  • Excerpts from "Young Goodman Brown" related to Salem Witchcraft and Family History



  •  
  • The Witch Tree Tradition (courtesy of thePeabody Essex Museum)
    The story of the Witch Tree from S. Perley's History of Salem, vol. 3. p. 285, reprinted in the Essex Institute Historical Collections, vol. LVII, p. 17)
     

 

  • "Proctor's Ledge in Salem confirmed as witch execution site" by Arianna MacNeill, Salem News, January 11, 2016. 
     
  • Link to the Salem Witch Trials Court Record of the Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey, August 19, 1692.

    This record quotes the defendant Rebecca Eames, who had been on her way to the court in the custody of her guards the same day that five executions were carried out at the Gallows Hill site now known as Proctor’s Ledge. Eames traveled along the Boston Road, which ran just below the execution site. 
     
  • Salem State University Professor Tad Baker’s "The Gallows Hill Project" 
     
  • Excerpt from The American Note-Books. Nathaniel Hawthorne visits the Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem, in 1838 and describes some of the graves. 
     
  • [list of executed witches]

Full text of "Young Goodman Brown"

Original Documents Related to the Salem Witchcraft Trials and "Young Goodman Brown"

 

Excerpts from Texts
Illustrations
Trial Documents
Maps
Autographs

 

Excerpts from Texts

 

  • In these excerpts from Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World, 1693, he presents his understanding and explanation of the events of Salem's witchcraft episode. 
  • Excerpts from Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana (Boston, 1702). 
  • “Preface to the Christian Reader” from Rev. John Hale’s A Modest Inquiry IntoThe Nature Of Witchcraft, 1702. “Among Satans Mysteries of iniquity, this of Witchcraft is one of the most difficult to be searched out by the Sons of men….” 
  • From Chapter 1 of A Modest Enquiry, Into The Nature Of Witchcraft by John Hale. “Had the Devils liberty to reveal all that they know of the affairs of mankind, or to do all that is in their power to perform, they would bring dreadful confusions and desolations upon the World.” 
  • Excerpt from Charles W. Upham’s Salem Witchcraft (1867). Upham comments on the “afflicted children,” the principal actors in the Salem tragedy.

 

Illustrations

 

 

Title Page of Cotton Mather's  <I>The Wonders of the Invisible World </I>
Title Page of Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World 
Cotton Mather's defense of the Salem Witchcraft Trials portrayed those involved as caught in a battle between the forces of good and evil in the New World.  
Title Page, Cotton Mather's <I/>Magnalia Christi Americana</I>, 1702.  London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside, 1702.
Title Page, Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702. London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside, 1702. 
"The Great Works of Christ in America"—Mather's history of colonial Massachussetts is a major work of early New England history through the Puritan imagination. In the General Introduction Mather states: "I WRITE the WONDERS of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, flying from the depravations of Europe, to the American Strand; and, assisted by the Holy Author of that Religion, I do with all conscience of Truth, required therein by Him, who is the Truth itself, report the wonderful displays of His infinite Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Faithfulness, wherewith His Divine Providenee hath irradiated an Indian Wilderness."  (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
Title Page, <I/>The Whole Booke of Psalms,</I>
Cambridge, 1640. ┬ęThe Huntington Library
Title Page, The Whole Booke of Psalms, Cambridge, 1640. ©The Huntington Library
The "Bay Psalm Book," the name generally given to The Whole Booke of Psalms, was the authorized hymnal of the Massachusetts Bay Colony and the first book printed in the English colonies. John Cotton wrote the Preface and Richard Mather, John Eliot, and Thomas Weld did the translation.  (courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, CA)
<I/>A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft,</I> 1697, by John Hale.
A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft, 1697, by John Hale.
Title Page of Rev. John Hale's brief history of the Salem Witchcraft trials, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature of Witchcraft, 1697. Hale was the Pastor of the Church in Beverly, Massachusetts until 1700 and an ardent supporter of the witch hunts of 1692. His opinion changed, however, when his second wife, Sarah (Noyes), was accused.  (courtesy of The Beverly Historical Society)
Charles Upham's <I/>Salem Witchcraft<I>
Charles Upham's Salem Witchcraft
Title Page from Charles Upham's Salem Witchcraft (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Arrest Warrant for Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator
Arrest Warrant for Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator
Arrest Warrant for Alice Parker and Ann Pudeator, Peabody Essex Museum Photo (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Death Warrant and Execution of Bridget Bishop, Peabody Essex Museum Photo
Death Warrant and Execution of Bridget Bishop, Peabody Essex Museum Photo
Death Warrant and Execution of Bridget Bishop, Peabody Essex Museum Photo (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

 

Trial Documents

 

Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey, Sr., page 1
Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey, Sr., page 1
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey,Sr., page 2
Examination of Rebecca Eames and Mary Lacey,Sr., page 2
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Maps

Map of Salem Village in 1692 by W.P. Upham, 1866.
Map of Salem Village in 1692 by W.P. Upham, 1866.
From Charles W. Upham’s Salem Witchcraft (1867)  (courtesy of the University of Virginia.)
Perley's Map of Gallows Hill and Area
Perley's Map of Gallows Hill and Area
Perley's Map of Gallows Hill and Area (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Map of Salem Village by Sidney Perley
Map of Salem Village by Sidney Perley 
Map from Sidney Perley's The History of Salem Massachusetts, Vol. 2, (1924). The map shows the "Salem Farms" area that is known as the Town of Danvers today. It was here that the witchcraft hysteria of 1692 actually began.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Autographs

Autograph of John Hathorne from Perley's <I>History of Salem</I>
Autograph of John Hathorne from Perley's History of Salem
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Autograph of Jonathan Corwin from Perley's <I>History of Salem</I>
Autograph of Jonathan Corwin from Perley's History of Salem
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Samuel Parris Autograph
Samuel Parris Autograph
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Images Related to the Historical Context of Witchcraft in "Young Goodman Brown"

Sites in Salem and Salem Village (Danvers) 
Illustrations and Pages from Texts
Gravestones and Monuments
Portraits and Paintings
Other Images

Illustrations and Pages from Texts

Detail from the Witches' Sabbat on the Brocken.  From the Douce Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford.
Detail from the Witches' Sabbat on the Brocken. From the Douce Collection, Bodleian Library, Oxford.
The witches' sabbath or sabbat was, according to European tradition, a meeting of devil worshipers that occurred late at night and went on until dawn. The meeting could include blasphemous parodies of Christian rites (a Black Mass), licentious orgies, initiation rites for new members in a coven, or secret conspiracies against established law and order--all assisted by the Evil One, Satan or the Devil. Often depicted as orgies of gluttony and lust, sabbats were nightmarish events attended by all manner of hellish creatures and demons. The Devil often appeared as a goat or a ram, if not a mysterious “black man.”  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Receiving the Devil's Book at the Witches' Sabbat.
Receiving the Devil's Book at the Witches' Sabbat.
A woodcut from the Compendium Maleficarum, 1625 by the demonologist Guazzo.  (courtesy of Greenwood Press)
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar 
Illustration from Chap-Book of the 18th Century by John Ashton (L.Chatto and Windus,1882). Witches were thought to own or associate with strange animals and evil creatures called "familiars." These are described in many of the original documents of the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Title Page of Cotton Mather's  <I>The Wonders of the Invisible World </I>
Title Page of Cotton Mather's The Wonders of the Invisible World 
Cotton Mather's defense of the Salem Witchcraft Trials portrayed those involved as caught in a battle between the forces of good and evil in the New World.  
Title Page of \"The World Bewitch'd\" (London, 1695)by Balthazar Bekker, D.D. and Pastor at Amsterdam
Title Page of "The World Bewitch'd" (London, 1695)by Balthazar Bekker, D.D. and Pastor at Amsterdam
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
<I/> The Pilgrim's Progress</I>
The Pilgrim's Progress 
Title page of John Bunyan's classic allegory, The Pilgrim's Progress, 1832 Edition. Hawthorne read Bunyan in his youth, and Bunyan was one of his favorite writers. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Death Foretold - Buckingham
Death Foretold - Buckingham
Illustration from "A Complete History of Magick, Sorcery, and Witchcraft...." (London, 1715)  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Witches of Warboyse
Witches of Warboyse
Frontispiece to"A Complete History of Magick, Sorcery, and Witchcraft...." (London, 1715)  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Execution of Witches in England
Execution of Witches in England
Illustration from England's Grievance Discovered by Ralph Gardiner. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Hanging of a Witch
The Hanging of a Witch
In 1692 nineteen people--fourteen women and five men--were hanged as witches or wizards on Gallows Hill in Salem, Massachusetts.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Witches with their Familiar Flying on Broomsticks.
Witches with their Familiar Flying on Broomsticks.
In the British Islands, it was believed that the Devil gave his witches a faithful demonic creature, often in the shape of a small animal (a black cat, dog, or toad, for example) that would advise the witch and assist in her evil doings. Also known as "imps" or "familiar spirits," these malicious creatures were different from the Devil himself, who often took the shape of a beast or a human, in European and early American traditions of witchcraft. It was thought that the witch's familiar would suck her blood for nourishment.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Pressing to Death.  From Richard Verstegen, <I/>Theatrum Crudelitatum Haereticorum</I> (1587).
Pressing to Death. From Richard Verstegen, Theatrum Crudelitatum Haereticorum (1587).
Pressing to death with weights or stones, also known as peine forte et dure, was the punishment inflicted on Giles Cory for refusing to plead guilty or innocent in 1692. This form of torture was actually illegal in Massachusetts after 1641 but used against Cory for "standing mute." Under English law at the time, a trial could not proceed unless the accused placed himself "on God and Country." According to tradition, eighty-year-old Cory only said, "more weight" when asked how he pleaded. Robert Calef, a contemporary, relates how as Cory was dying after two days of having stones piled on him in the field beside Salem jail, "in pressing, his tongue being pressed out of his mouth, the sheriff with his cane forced it in again." In showing his contempt for the court and its proceedings, Giles Cory died a gruesome death but brought further attention to the unfair use of spectral evidence and to the overall madness of the witchcraft trials of 1692.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Charles Upham's <I/>Salem Witchcraft<I>
Charles Upham's Salem Witchcraft
Title Page from Charles Upham's Salem Witchcraft (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
A Witch Ducking
A Witch Ducking
Illustration from A Popular History of the United States by William Cullen Bryant. New York, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1896. One 'foolproof' way to establish whether a suspect was a witch was ducking. With right thumb bound to left toe, the accused was plunged into a convenient pond. If he or she floated, it proved an association with the black arts, with the body rejecting the baptismal water. If the victim drowned, he or she was innocent. A ducking stool or diving chair was also used in America for witches.  (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
Three Chelmsford \"Witches\" on the Gallows
Three Chelmsford "Witches" on the Gallows
Image from a contemporary publication on the third Chelmsford, England witch trial of 1589. 
Three Chelmsford \"Witches\" on the Gallows[detail]
Three Chelmsford "Witches" on the Gallows[detail] 
Image from a contemporary publication on the third Chelmsford, England witch trial of 1589.  
Old Postcard: A Witch Stealing Children
Old Postcard: A Witch Stealing Children 
A witch stealing away children from a late-nineteenth century postcard in the Peabody Essex Collections (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Title Page, Cotton Mather's <I/>Magnalia Christi Americana</I>, 1702.  London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside, 1702.
Title Page, Cotton Mather's Magnalia Christi Americana, 1702. London: Printed for Thomas Parkhurst, at the Bible and three crowns in Cheapside, 1702. 
"The Great Works of Christ in America"—Mather's history of colonial Massachussetts is a major work of early New England history through the Puritan imagination. In the General Introduction Mather states: "I WRITE the WONDERS of the CHRISTIAN RELIGION, flying from the depravations of Europe, to the American Strand; and, assisted by the Holy Author of that Religion, I do with all conscience of Truth, required therein by Him, who is the Truth itself, report the wonderful displays of His infinite Power, Wisdom, Goodness, and Faithfulness, wherewith His Divine Providenee hath irradiated an Indian Wilderness."  (courtesy of The Boston Public Library.)
Perley's Map of Gallows Hill and the Crevices on Proctor's Ledge Near the Boston Road
Perley's Map of Gallows Hill and the Crevices on Proctor's Ledge Near the Boston Road
Perley's Map showing the now-confirmed site of the Salem execution of accused witches (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Perley's Sketch of the Crevice and Place of the Locust Trees, Proctor's Ledge, Salem
Perley's Sketch of the Crevice and Place of the Locust Trees, Proctor's Ledge, Salem 
It was Salem historian Sidney Perley who first suggested the site of Proctor's Ledge as the most likely location of the hangings of 1692. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Illustration of Lower Gallows Hill Area by George M. White, c. 1888.
Illustration of Lower Gallows Hill Area by George M. White, c. 1888.
Nineteenth Century Illustration of Gallows Hill Area: Where the Salem "Witches" Were Hanged. Proctor's Ledge, however, was the actual place of the executions. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Sites in Salem and Salem Village (Danvers)

Watercolor Painting of the Jonathan Corwin House, 310 1/2 Essex St. at North St., Salem, by Samuel Bartoll, 1819
Watercolor Painting of the Jonathan Corwin House, 310 1/2 Essex St. at North St., Salem, by Samuel Bartoll, 1819
The Jonathan Corwin house was built around 1670. Corwin was a Salem merchant who purchased the house from Nathaniel Davenport of Boston in 1675 and was living here in 1692. There is a tradition that some of the accused "witches" of the Salem hysteria were examined in the lower front room on the right.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Postcard, probably c. 1900, of the Jonathan Corwin House, called the \"Old Witch House,\" 310 1/2 Essex St. at North St. in Salem, MA
Postcard, probably c. 1900, of the Jonathan Corwin House, called the "Old Witch House," 310 1/2 Essex St. at North St. in Salem, MA
Jonathan Corwin, a Salem merchant, purchased the house from Nathaniel Davenport of Boston in 1675. Davenport had never finished the construction of the house, so Corwin had the work completed. Corwin was living here in 1692 when he and John Hathorne served as the magistrates of Salem Town, issuing warrants for the arrest of those accused of witchcraft, and on the Court of Oyer and Terminer that sentenced accused witches to death. There is a tradition that some of the accused "witches" of the Salem hysteria were examined in the lower front room on the right, and today the house is know as the "Witch House." The house was unfinished when Corwin purchased it, but when completed, it had a central chimney plan, projecting two-story front central porch, peaked gables, and a rear lean-to. Around 1746 Sarah Corwin, the widow of Jonathan Corwin's grandson, George, enlarged and remodeled the house in the Georgian Colonial style. The house was further altered between 1856 and 1885 when George P. Farrington, the owner, added a drugstore to the front. In 1945 Historic Salem purchased the property, saving it from being demolished, and had it restored. (special thanks to Margaret B. Moore)
Jonathan Corwin House (The Witch House, 310 1/2 Essex Street at North Street
Jonathan Corwin House (The Witch House, 310 1/2 Essex Street at North Street
Jonathan Corwin, a Salem merchant, purchased the house from Nathaniel Davenport of Boston in 1675. Davenport had never finished the construction of the house, so Corwin had the work completed. Corwin was living here in 1692 when he and John Hathorne served as the magistrates of Salem Town, issuing warrants for the arrest of those accused of witchcraft, and on the Court of Oyer and Terminer that sentenced accused witches to death. There is a tradition that some of the accused "witches" of the Salem hysteria were examined in the lower front room on the right, and today the house is know as the "Witch House." The house was unfinished when Corwin purchased it, but when completed, it had a central chimney plan, projecting two-story front central porch, peaked gables, and a rear lean-to. Around 1746 Sarah Corwin, the widow of Jonathan Corwin's grandson, George, enlarged and remodeled the house in the Georgian Colonial style. The house was further altered between 1856 and 1885 when George P. Farrington, the owner, added a drugstore to the front. In 1945 Historic Salem purchased the property, saving it from being demolished, and had it restored.  (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
The Downing House, Salem.
The Downing House, Salem.
The Downing House, Salem. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
View of Proctor's Ledge, Salem
View of Proctor's Ledge, Salem
The confirmed location of the Salem witchcraft executions of 1692 (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Proctor's Ledge, Salem, from Near Boston St.
Proctor's Ledge, Salem, from Near Boston St.
Site of now-confirmed location of the execution of accused witches (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Proctor's Ledge, Salem, Seen from Proctor St.
Proctor's Ledge, Salem, Seen from Proctor St.
Site of the now-confirmed execution of accused witches (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
View of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1890.  From the Robb Collection.
View of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts, circa 1890. From the Robb Collection.
Gallows Hill, Salem. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Gallows Hill, Salem, circa 1898.
Photograph from N. W. Elwell, Boston
Gallows Hill, Salem, circa 1898. Photograph from N. W. Elwell, Boston
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
View of Gallows Hill Area, Salem.
Robb Photo.
View of Gallows Hill Area, Salem. Robb Photo.
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
View of Gallows Hill Area, Salem.
Robb Photo.
View of Gallows Hill Area, Salem. Robb Photo.
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Summit of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts
Summit of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts
Summit of Gallows Hill (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
View of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts.
View of Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts.
In his history of the Salem witchcraft hysteria Charles W. Upham made note that the place of execution of the condemned witches was "a point where the spectacle would be witnessed by the whole surrounding country far and near, being on the brow of the highest eminence in the vicinity of the town." According to many sources the executions took place on the southern edge of the hill, seen toward the center in this recent photograph. The specific location, however, has been conformed as Proctor's Ledge, between Proctor and Pope Street, near Gallows Hill Park, but closer to Boston Street and the North River. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Tree Near Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts.
Tree Near Gallows Hill, Salem, Massachusetts.
Tree Near Gallows Hill (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Near Gallows Hill
Near Gallows Hill 
Salem, Massachusetts. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Near Gallows Hill
Near Gallows Hill
Salem, Massachusetts (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Gallows Hill; Children Standing on Gallows' Sockets from <I>Hawthorne's Country</I> by Helen Archibald Clarke (1910)
Gallows Hill; Children Standing on Gallows' Sockets from Hawthorne's Country by Helen Archibald Clarke (1910)
According to Clarke, the two girls in this photograph are standing next to the remains of the iron bolts which were used to support the gallows in the seventeenth century. (courtesy of the Baker and Taylor Company)
The Victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692
The Victims of the Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692
Gallows Hill, on the outskirts of Salem Town, was the place traditionally thought to be the place of execution during the Salem Witch Hysteria of 1692. Nearby Proctor's Ledge, however, is now confirmed as the actual location.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Where the Witchcraft Hysteria Began
Where the Witchcraft Hysteria Began
Site of the Salem Village Parsonage, 1692. (Frank Cousins Photo, 1891)  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Site of the Salem Village Meeting House, 1692
Site of the Salem Village Meeting House, 1692
Site of the First Church, Danvers (Salem Village) Corner of Forrest and Hobart Streets (Frank Cousins Photo, c. 1891) (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
George Jacobs' House
Danversport, Mass.  Frank Cousins Photo, 1891
George Jacobs' House Danversport, Mass. Frank Cousins Photo, 1891 
George Jacobs' house was erected in 1690.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
George Jacobs' House and Barns
Danversport, Mass.  Frank Cousins Photo, 1891
George Jacobs' House and Barns Danversport, Mass. Frank Cousins Photo, 1891
George Jacobs' house was erected in 1690.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Engraving of the George Jacobs House
Engraving of the George Jacobs House
From Charles W. Upham's Salem Witchcraft, 1867.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
View of Danversport looking up the river from the rear of George Jacobs' House, circa 1891.   Frank Cousins Collection.
View of Danversport looking up the river from the rear of George Jacobs' House, circa 1891. Frank Cousins Collection.
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Rebecca Nurse House, ca 1678.
Danvers, Massachusetts
Rebecca Nurse House, ca 1678. Danvers, Massachusetts
The Rebecca Nurse House and Farm, 149 Pine Street, Danvers, Massachusetts. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rebecca Nurse Farm
Danvers, Massachusetts
Rebecca Nurse Farm Danvers, Massachusetts
The Francis and Rebecca Nurse Farm was originally three hundred acres and close to the center of Salem Village. Francis Nurse was a member of the Village group that opposed Rev. Samuel Parris.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rebecca Nurse Family Cemetery and House, 1678, Danvers, Mass.
Rebecca Nurse Family Cemetery and House, 1678, Danvers, Mass.
On a March day in 1692 friends came to the Nurse house to tell Rebecca she had been accused of witchcraft. Seventy-one year old, bedridden with illness, Nurse dumbfoundly responsed, "As to this thing I am Innocent as the child unborne." Even a reprieve from Governor Phips and a petiton from influential neighbors could not save her from execution on Gallows Hill, July 19. Her body was retrieved by family members and secretly returned to this farm and buried in an unmarked grave.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rebecca Nurse Family Cemetery and House, 1678, Danvers, Mass.
Rebecca Nurse Family Cemetery and House, 1678, Danvers, Mass.
On March 23, 1692, Edward and Jonathan Putnam went to officials to swear out a complaint against Rebecca Nurse. A warrant for her arrest was issued immediately, and next day her examination was held in the Salem Village meeting house. When asked by John Hathorne for her response to the charges against her, Rebecca said, " I can say before my Eternal father I am innocent, & God will clear my innocency."  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rear View of the Nurse Family Homestead, ca 1678, Danvers, Massachusetts (Formerly Salem Village).
Rear View of the Nurse Family Homestead, ca 1678, Danvers, Massachusetts (Formerly Salem Village).
The homestead is a superb example of a Colonial New England farmstead. Close by is the family burial ground including the grave of witchcraft victim George Jacobs, as well as the monument to Rebecca Nurse, inscribed with an epitaph written by poet John Greenleaf Whittier. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Sunset View, the Nurse Homestead, ca 1678, Danvers, Massachusetts (Formerly Salem Village).
Sunset View, the Nurse Homestead, ca 1678, Danvers, Massachusetts (Formerly Salem Village).
Rebecca Nurse was accused of witchcraft in April of 1692 and executed at Gallows Hill, Salem, the following July. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Fireplace in kitchen of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Fireplace in kitchen of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Interior of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Interior of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Interior of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Interior of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Kitchen of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Kitchen of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Bedroom of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Bedroom of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Spinning Wheel, Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Spinning Wheel, Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Upstairs in Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Upstairs in Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Bedroom fireplace, upstairs in Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Bedroom fireplace, upstairs in Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Cradle and fireplace in upstairs bedroom of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
Cradle and fireplace in upstairs bedroom of Rebecca Nurse House in Danvers
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Replica of the Salem Village Meeting House, used in the film \"Three Sovereigns for Sarah\" (1985)
Replica of the Salem Village Meeting House, used in the film "Three Sovereigns for Sarah" (1985)
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Salem Village Meeting House, 1673-1701.
Courtesy, Danvers Archival Center.
The Salem Village Meeting House, 1673-1701. Courtesy, Danvers Archival Center.
This 1874 engraving shows the Salem Village Meeting House as it looked in 1692. It was here that many of the witch examinations took place. The structure was torn down in 1701 and a new meeting house was built near by. A replica of this building stands today on the grounds of the Rebecca Nurse Farm in Danvers, Massachusetts.  (courtesy of Danvers Archival Center)
\"Home of the Rev. Samuel Parris, Centre Street, Danvers.\" (Circa 1891) Frank Cousins Collection.
"Home of the Rev. Samuel Parris, Centre Street, Danvers." (Circa 1891) Frank Cousins Collection.
This photo shows the ell, which was built as an addition to the original Salem Village parsonage by Rev. Peter Clark in 1734. The old parsonage, home to Samuel and Elizabeth Parris during the witchcraft episode was torn down ca. 1784. The ell was then moved to Sylvan Street, Danvers.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Ann Putnam House, Off Dayton Street, Danvers, MA.
Circa 1891, Frank Cousins Collection
Ann Putnam House, Off Dayton Street, Danvers, MA. Circa 1891, Frank Cousins Collection
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Holten House, ca. 1670, Danvers, Massachusetts
Holten House, ca. 1670, Danvers, Massachusetts
Sarah and Benjamin Holten House, ca. 1670, Corner of Holten and Centre Streets, Danvers. (Photo, ca.1891).  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Nathaniel Ingersoll's Ordinary, Danvers, Mass.
Nathaniel Ingersoll's Ordinary, Danvers, Mass.
One of the most important landmarks in the Salem Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 was Deacon Ingersoll's ordinary, a place of lodging and refreshment. Built around 1670, the ordinary was used by visitors to Salem Village and by the magistrates and marshals of Essex County during the examinations. John Indian, Tituba's husband, worked here, and most of the accused "witches" and afflicted girls were brought to the ordinary during 1692. The earliest portion of house dates to the 17th century.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Site of the Salem Village Parsonage 1681, Rear 67 Centre Street, Danvers, MA (Formerly Salem Village).
Site of the Salem Village Parsonage 1681, Rear 67 Centre Street, Danvers, MA (Formerly Salem Village).
The house was torn down in 1784 and excavated beginning in 1970. Today the park includes the original foundation walls and interpretive signs. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Site of the Salem Village Parsonage 1681, Rear 67 Centre Street, Danvers, MA (Formerly Salem Village).
Site of the Salem Village Parsonage 1681, Rear 67 Centre Street, Danvers, MA (Formerly Salem Village). 
Accessible by a cart path, this archaeological site is the famous parsonage of Salem Village, the focal point of the witchcraft delusion of 1692. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

Gravestones and Monuments

Charter Street Graveyard and  Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Charter Street Graveyard and Peabody (Grimshawe) House in Salem
Judge Hathorne and seven other Hathornes are buried here, but Hawthorne is buried in Concord. The Peabody House is where Sophia lived with her parents when Hawthorne courted her. It is also the setting of "Grimshawe" and the unfinished novel,The Dolliver Romance. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
The Burying Point, 1637, Salem
The Burying Point, 1637, Salem
The Burying Point, Salem's oldest cemetery, dates from 1637 and contains the remains and gravemarkers of many prominent people in Salem's history. Some of Hawthorne's early ancestors are buried here, as well as individuals associated with the witchcraft episode and China trade period. The burial ground is situated on what was once a bluff, projecting into the South River. Cattle used to graze in the burial ground, and for several years it was the site of John Horne's windmill.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Hathorne Family Gravestones in The Burying Point
Hathorne Family Gravestones in The Burying Point
Hathorne family gravestones in The Burying Point,established in 1637, and the oldest cemetery in Salem. It is located on Charter St. next to the Peabody (Grimshawe) house in Salem. None of the Hawthornes are buried in the Charter Street Burying Point. (photography by Bruce Hibbard)
John Hathorne, 1717, Charter St. Burying Ground
John Hathorne, 1717, Charter St. Burying Ground
Slate gravestone of Magistrate John Hathorne (1641-1717), Charter Street Cemetery, Salem (The Burying Point, 1637). Hawthorne's great-great grandfather was at the center of the witchcraft hysteria of 1692--as an interrogator of the accused and as a member of the infamous Court of Oyer and Terminer.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)

 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Gravestone of Timothy Lindall, 1698/99, Charter St.Burying Ground, Salem, MA.
Gravestone of Timothy Lindall, 1698/99, Charter St.Burying Ground, Salem, MA.
Full view of the Timothy Lindall gravestone, Charter St. Burying Ground, Salem. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Timothy Lindall, right border, Salem
Timothy Lindall, right border, Salem
 (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Timothy Lindall, left border, Salem
Timothy Lindall, left border, Salem
Left border of the Timothy Lindall Stone, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Slate Gravestone for Nathanael Mather, 1688, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.
Slate Gravestone for Nathanael Mather, 1688, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.
An Aged person / that had seen but / Nineteen Winters / in the World.Hawthorne, a frequent visitor to Salem's Charter Street burial ground, used the epitaph for Nathanael Mather, the son of Rev. Increase Mather,in his story Fanshawe. Historian Sidney Perley wrote the following about Mather: “Nathaniel Mather was son of Rev. Increase and Maria Mather of Boston, where he was born July 6, 1669. His father was president of Harvard College; and two of his brothers were Reverends Cotton and Samuel Mather. He entered Harvard at the age of twelve, and took his first degree at the age of sixteen, when he gave a Hebrew oration, so great a scholar had he become at that tender age. His acquaintance with general literature and science of those times was extraordinary; and he excelled in mathematics, classics and theology. He was a hard student and a good scholar, but too close application, probably without relaxation, produced ill health. At the age of fourteen, he dedicated himself to God. His dedication consisted of devotion to prayer for personal sanctity, and he deliberated so much and so seriously that had became morbid and melancholy. He had taken his second degree at college just before his death. He had contracted ill habits of posture of body, which, persisted in, produced effects which made him appear like an old man. He died in Salem Oct. 17, 1688, at the age of nineteen, and was buried in the Charter Street burying ground, where his gravestone still stands. It is said that his brother Cotton wrote the epitaph upon it….“ (Sidney Perley, The History of Salem, Massachusetts, Vol. 3, pp. 231-32.)  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Slate Gravestone for Mary Cromall, Wife of Philip Cromall, 1683, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.
Slate Gravestone for Mary Cromall, Wife of Philip Cromall, 1683, Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem.
Mary Cromall's slate stone is unusual in its shape and is an exceptional example of early Boston-area gravestone carving. Mary, widow of Robert Lemon, was the third wife of Philip Cromall. The oldest extant stone in the burial ground is for Dorothy Cromall, 1673.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Samuel Shattock Gravestone
Samuel Shattock Gravestone
Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Gravestone of Elizabeth Parris, 1696, Wadsworth Cemetery, Danvers, Massachusetts.
Gravestone of Elizabeth Parris, 1696, Wadsworth Cemetery, Danvers, Massachusetts.
Slate gravestone of Elizabeth Parris, wife of Rev. Samuel Parris of Salem Village. It was in her house, the old parsonage, that Tituba the Barbados slave told stories of the occult to impressionable girls and set off the hysteria that swept the towns north of Boston. The epitaph, initialed “S.P.” reads: “Sleep precious Dust no Stranger now to Rest. / Thou hast thy longed wish in Abrahams Brest. / Farewell best Wife, choice Mother, Neighbor, Friend. / Weel wail the less for hopes of Thee i th End.” (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Mary Corry, Wife of Giles Corry, 1684
Mary Corry, Wife of Giles Corry, 1684
The Simple gravestone of Mary Corry, first wife of Giles Corry (Corey), who was pressed to death in September 19, 1692. Corey's second wife, Martha, was hanged as a witch on Gallows Hill September 22.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rev. Joseph Green Gravestone, Danvers (Carved by John Holiman)
Rev. Joseph Green Gravestone, Danvers (Carved by John Holiman)
Rev. Joseph Green came to Salem Village in 1697 to become its minister after Rev. Samuel Parris left. Rev. Green led the shaken community out of the shadow of the witchcraft delusion into the light of the 18th century.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
George Jacobs, 1692, Nurse Family Plot, Danvers, MA
George Jacobs, 1692, Nurse Family Plot, Danvers, MA
Replica 17th century stone for George Jacobs, Sr., placed in the Rebecca Nurse Family Plot in Danvers, Mass. in 1992. Jacobs was accused of wizardry and hanged on August 19th, 1692. The words he used in his defense: “Well burn me, or hang me, I will stand in the truth of Christ,” are carved on this stone, which marks his remains. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Gravestone Memorial to George Jacobs, Sr.
Gravestone Memorial to George Jacobs, Sr. 
This slate gravemarker for Witchcraft victim George Jacobs, Sr. is a reproduction of a typical 17th century New England gravestone. It was placed in his memory in the Nurse Family Burial Ground in Danvers during the . . .  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Nurse Family Plot, Danvers
Nurse Family Plot, Danvers
Section of the Nurse Family Cemetery, Rebecca Nurse Farm, Pine Street, Danvers. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Rebecca Nurse Monument, Nurse Family Cemetery, Pine Street, Danvers, Massachusetts.  (Frank Cousins Photo, 1891)
Rebecca Nurse Monument, Nurse Family Cemetery, Pine Street, Danvers, Massachusetts. (Frank Cousins Photo, 1891)
This monument was erected in 1885 in Danvers (Salem Village) to honor the memory of Rebecca Nurse, one of the accused witches executed in Salem in 1692. According to family tradition, Rebecca's body was retrieved from Gallows Hill by her son, Samuel, and buried in an unmarked grave at the family homestead. This was done in defiance of the law, which stated that an executed "witch" could not receive a Christian burial. The monument is inscribed with a poetic epitaph written by John Greenleaf Whittier. It reads: "O, Christian martyr! who for truth could die,/ When all about thee owned the hideous lie! / The world, redeemed from superstition's sway, / Is breathing freer for thy sake today."  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Rev.John Hale Gravestone, 1700, Beverly, Massachusetts.
Rev.John Hale Gravestone, 1700, Beverly, Massachusetts.
In 1664 John Hale became minister of the church at "Bass River," which became the town of Beverly in 1667. He held this position for over thirty years. He supported the Salem witch hunt of 1692 until his second wife, Sarah (Noyes), was accused of witchcraft, at which time he changed his opinion. He is buried next to his wives in the Hale Family plot, not far from his house in Beverly, Massachusetts.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Gravestone Detail from the West Lynn Burial Ground.
Gravestone Detail from the West Lynn Burial Ground.
"Go live to God." (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Joseph Tapping Gravestone, 1678.
Joseph Tapping Gravestone, 1678.
Joseph Tapping Slate Gravestone, 1678, King's Chapel Burial Ground, Boston, Massachusetts. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Detail of the Joseph Tapping Gravestone, 1678, King's Chapel Burial Ground, Boston.
Detail of the Joseph Tapping Gravestone, 1678, King's Chapel Burial Ground, Boston.
Detail of the Joseph Tapping Stone, 1678, Boston. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Detail of the Susanna Jayne Gravestone,Slate, 1776, Burial Hill, Marblehead.
Detail of the Susanna Jayne Gravestone,Slate, 1776, Burial Hill, Marblehead.
Detail of the Susanna Jayne Gravestone,1776, Burial Hill, Marblehead, Massachusetts. Carved by Boston stonecutter Henry Christian Geyer. (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Detail of the Zechariah Long Gravestone, 1688, Charlestown, Massachusetts
Detail of the Zechariah Long Gravestone, 1688, Charlestown, Massachusetts
The imps of Death attack the Death's Head on the Zechariah Long Gravestone, 1688.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Gravestone of Lt. William Hescy, Wakefield, MA, 1689.
Gravestone of Lt. William Hescy, Wakefield, MA, 1689.
The Hescy stone is a classic early Boston gravestone, made by the anonymous Boston-area carver known as "The Old Stone Cutter of Boston." The grapes and vines are symbolic of the "True Vine" of the New Testament and the wine of Holy Communion. Puritan poet Edward Taylor wrote: "Implant me as a branch in God's true vine / And then my grape will yield thy Cup rich wine." The vine theme was used on many early New England gravestones.  (Photography by Joseph R. Modugno)
Giles and Martha Corey Markers, Peabody, MA
Giles and Martha Corey Markers, Peabody, MA 
Giles and Martha Corey markers near their homesite by Crystal Lake, now west Peabody, MA. Photograph courtesy of Traci A. Canavan

Portraits and Paintings

Reverend Samuel Parris
Reverend Samuel Parris
Undated miniature portrait of Reverend Samuel Parris from the collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Cotton Mather (1663-1723)
Portrait of Cotton Mather (1663-1723)
Cotton Mather was one of Puritan New England's most influential ministers and leaders. He was famous for his writings, histories such as Magnalia Christi Americana and those that helped stir up support for the Salem Witchcraft Trials of 1692. He also promoted learning and early scientific knowledge in New England. He worked for acceptance of the smallpox vaccine and wrote a treatise on medicine called The Angel of Bethesda.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Cotton Mather
Cotton Mather
Portrait of Cotton Mather from Perley's History of Salem, Massachusetts. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Portrait of Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) by John Smibert (1688-1751)
Portrait of Samuel Sewall (1652-1730) by John Smibert (1688-1751)
 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
John Bunyan, Author of <I/>The Pilgrim's Progress</I>, 1678, 1684.
John Bunyan, Author of The Pilgrim's Progress, 1678, 1684.
Engraving of John Bunyan by A. L. Dick Bunyan was one of Hawthorne's favorite writers. (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
\"The Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692\" by T.H. Matteson.
"The Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692" by T.H. Matteson.
"The Trial of George Jacobs, August 5, 1692" oil on canvas by T.H. Matteson, 1855 (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
\"Examination of a Witch,\" 1853 by T.H. Matteson
"Examination of a Witch," 1853 by T.H. Matteson
"Examination of a Witch" oil on canvas by T.H. Matteson, 1853.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Other Images

Canes of George Jacobs, a witchcraft victim.
Canes of George Jacobs, a witchcraft victim.
Canes used by George Jacobs, witchcraft victim.  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
Brass Sundial, Dated 1644, and Owned by John Proctor.
Brass Sundial, Dated 1644, and Owned by John Proctor.
John Proctor lived with his wife Elizabeth in what is now Peabody, Massachusetts. They were respected farmers and keepers of a tavern. Mary Warren, one of the "afflicted girls" of Salem Village was a servant in the Proctor household. Early in 1692, Proctor had been an outspoken critic of the witchcraft proceedings and of the antics of the Village girls. He and his wife were accused of witchcraft and sent to prison. Both were convicted of witchcraft, and John was hanged on August 19. Elizabeth, who was found to be pregnant, was spared execution and outlived the 1692 hysteria. The story of the Proctors was later made famous by Arthur Miller in his play "The Crucible."  (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)

Critical Commentary Related to "Young Goodman Brown"

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
  • Related excerpts from Dr. Rita K. Gollin's lecture "Figurations of Salem in `Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House.' "
    Dr. Rita K. Gollin of SUNY Geneseo discusses Hawthorne's use of Salem and family history in "Young Goodman Brown" in excerpts from a lecture given at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site, September 23, 2000. (Used with author's permission)
  • Excerpt from lecture, "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" by Rita K. Gollin, delivered at Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000.
    In this passage Rita Gollin emphasizes the way in which Hawthorne had internalized the shameful events of Salem's history in which his ancestors played critical roles. For her, Young Goodman Brown's journey into the dark forest serves as a metaphor for Hawthorne's own dark introspections.
  • In Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Truth of Dreams (1979), Rita K. Gollin offers insights on reading "Young Goodman Brown" and other Hawthorne stories as dream allegories. (courtesy of Louisiana State University Press
     
  • Nancy Bunge in Nathaniel Hawthorne: A Study of the Short Fiction (1993) comments on the theme of "Young Goodman Brown". (courtesy of Twayne Publishers
     
  • In Margaret B. Moore's The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne, she discusses Hawthorne's connections with witches.(courtesy of University of Missouri Press) 
     
  • Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press)
    "In 'Young Goodman Brown' the young protagonist talks of his ancestor who commanded the constable to lash 'the Quaker woman so smartly though the streets of Salem.' Hawthorne had read this detail of the whipping of Ann Coleman in William Sewel's The History of the People Called Quaker, which said that Major Hathorne had once opposed 'compulsion for conscience' but that his 'firm warrant' for whipping had almost cost Coleman's life" (32).

Multimedia Related to "Young Goodman Brown"

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
  • Audio clip excerpts from Rita Gollin's lecture "Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House.' "
  • Dr. Rita K. Gollin of SUNY Geneseo discusses Hawthorne's use of Salem and family history in "Young Goodman Brown" in excerpts from a lecture given at The House of the Seven Gables Historic Site, September 23, 2000. (Used with author's permission)

Websites Related to Witchcraft and "Young Goodman Brown"

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 
  • Works of Nathaniel Hawthorne - Eric Eldred Site (Complete texts of the writings of Hawthorne)

  • Cotton Mather Biography (A concise biography of the famous Puritan religious and political leader) 
     

  • The 1692 Salem Witchcraft Papers Site(Verbatim transcripts of the legal documents and related writings of the Salem Witch trials. These documents were collected and edited by Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum in three volumes called The Salem Witchcraft Papers in 1977.)

Learning Activities Related to "Young Goodman Brown" and Early New England Gravestones

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 

1.) Interpreting Allegory and Symbolism

Many of Hawthorne's stories can be read as allegories. An allegory is a story or work of art that represents another meaning. It is different than a work that draws upon symbolism to suggest other meanings. In an allegory, concrete elements, such as characters, objects, actions, and settings, stand for abstractions (such as greed, virtue, love, hope). As seen in a parable, the elements in a literary or artistic allegory work together to communicate an idea or moral. You may be familiar with Jesus of Nazareth's parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) or the seventeenth-century English classic The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan. (In Bunyan's allegory, the main character, Christian, along with his companion Hopeful, is imprisoned in the castle of Giant Despair. It is a key named Promise, however, that unlocks the prison door, freeing the two and allowing them to travel together on the narrow way and beyond to the Celestial City.)

The English settlers of seventeenth and eighteenth-century New England were quite familiar with these allegories and often saw their own lives in stark allegorical terms. They lived in a world of symbols. Gravestone carvers, for example, drew upon the many symbolic images surrounding death and funerals and even the verbal metaphors of ministers of the time. They incorporated these in their own style into the gravestones they produced and created one of New England's first folk art forms.

Skulls, crossed bones, winged hourglasses, picks and shovels were just a few of the common symbols carved on gravestones in Puritan times. These carvings were a symbolic language understood by all the people. Some stonecutters, however, went beyond the use of individual symbols on their stones and carved vivid allegorical dramas. The images worked together as a kind of story in stone, communicating a moral lesson or spiritual truth to the observer. In this way, seventeenth and eighteenth century gravestones were more than memorials to the dead: they were sermons to the living.

The following learning activities will give you practice with understanding and interpreting symbolism and allegory. They will also introduce you to the art of the New England gravestone-a haunting expression of the New England mind, which was one of the chief subjects of Nathaniel Hawthorne's writing.

Activities:

a.) View the following gravestones. In writing, describe the images you see (list the characters, objects, actions, and settings, as best you can, on each one). Notice the details, especially on the Susanna Jayne and Joseph Tapping stones. After you list each element, offer your interpretation of the symbolic and/or allegorical meaning of each. In a few sentences, explain the story carved on each stone.

Detail of the Right Border of the Isaac Spofford Gravestone, 1786, Beverly, MA 
Detail of the Polly Harris Gravestone, 1787, Charlestown, MA

Detail of the Susanna Jayne Gravestone, 1776, Marblehead, MA 
Detail of the Joseph Tapping Stone, 1678, Boston, MA

b.) Read Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown" as an allegory. Try the same approach you used while interpreting the gravestones. List the main characters, objects, settings, and actions and then beside each element, give your interpretation. (Be aware of the fact, however, that Hawthorne is often times deliberately ambiguous and relies more on symbolism than a strict one-to-one allegorical meaning.)

c.) Explain how the following gravestone images and the story "Young Goodman Brown" reveal an aspect of the Puritan imagination.

Timothy Lindall Stone, 1698/99, Charter St. Burying Ground, Salem, MA 
Detail of the Left Border of the Lindall Stone 
Detail of the Right Border of the Lindall Stone

Phinehas Pratt Gravestone, 1680, Charlestown, MA.

Detail of the Zechariah Long Gravestone, 1688, Charlestown, MA

Joseph Tapping Gravestone, 1678, Boston, MA

2.) Reading and Writing Epitaphs:

Along with symbolic images, gravestone makers carved inscriptions on early New England gravestones. Often quaint and curious (if not outright strange), these epitaphs usually give essential biographical information: name, age, death date, names of parents and, for women, name of husband. Many epitaphs even include a vivid description of the cause of death or a eulogistic sentiment praising the virtues or accomplishments of the deceased. Most stones offer a few lines of hopeful-or not-so-hopeful-verse to the passerby. A common sentiment is "Death is a Debt to Nature due, / Which I have paid and so must You." Latin phrases, such as "Tempus Fugit" (Time Flies) and "Memento Mori" (Remember Death) are other common expressions inscribed on early New England gravestones.

Like the symbolic and allegorical carvings, gravestone epitaphs provide glimpses into the lives, beliefs, and imaginations of the first English settlers. They have many truths to tell. Puritan minister and writer, Cotton Mather, made this well-known comment on Boston's colonial gravestones: "And know, reader, that though the stones in this wilderness are already grown so witty as to speak, they never yet that I could hear of, grew so wicked as to lye."

Activities:

a.) Read over the following questions and with these in mind view the gravestones and read the epitaphs below. When you are done, answer the questions fully.

1. What do you notice about the use of language and punctuation on early New England gravestones?

2. What social and/or religious values and beliefs are stated or implied in the epitaphs?

3. What insights do you gain into daily life in early New England?

 

b.) At the end of "Young Goodman Brown," Hawthorne writes: "And when he had lived long, and was borne to his grave, a hoary corpse, followed by Faith, an aged woman, and children and grand-children, a goodly procession, besides neighbors, not a few, they carved no hopeful verse upon his tombstone; for his dying hour was gloom."

Using any of the above as models, write an epitaph for Goodman Brown. Be sure it is faithful to the story and reflects your understanding of Brown's conflict and Hawthorne's theme. Begin with these words: "Here lyes ye body of Young Goodman Brown, . . . ."

c.) Using the same approach as above, write an epitaph for Young Goodman Brown's wife, Faith.

3. Excerpt from The American Note-Books. Nathaniel Hawthorne visits the Charter Street Burial Ground, Salem, in 1838 and describes some of the graves.

Other website pages that may assist you with these activities are:

Saving Graves--"How To Interpret Gravestone Motifs"

"Cemetery Art and Symbolism" by Pam Reid

"Symbolism on Gravestones" by Jessie Lie Farber (Association for Gravestone Studies)

"The Epitaph Browser" Collected and annotated by Joel GAzis-SAx

Saving Graves

Association for Gravestone Studies 

Lectures and Articles Related to "Young Goodman Brown"

The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar
The Black Man of the Forest with His Familiar (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
 

"Figurations of Salem in 'Young Goodman Brown' and 'The Custom-House,'" lecture by Dr. Rita Gollin, SUNY, Geneseo, delivered at Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum on September 23, 2000.

"Salem and Hawthorne," lecture by Ms. Margaret Moore, independent scholar, delivered at North Shore Community College on August 31, 2000.

"Maine, Indian Land Speculation, and the Essex County Witchcraft Outbreak of 1692," article by Dr. Emerson W. Baker and Dr. James Kences from Maine History, volume 40, number 3, Fall 2001 (pp. 159-189). (Please do not cite or reproduce without permission of the authors; write to Professor Baker at: ebaker@maine.rr.com )

Dr. Peter Walker, Department of English, Salem State College, "Why We Still Read Hawthorne 150 Years Later," delivered at Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, on April 17, 2003. 

“The Ideal Identity: Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Loss of Native American Culture,” paper delivered by Greg Stone, Dept. of English, University of Tulsa, at the conference of the Nathaniel Hawthorne Society, in Concord, MA, June 12, 2010.