Bridget Bishop was the first woman to be hanged during the well-known Salem due to accusations that she practiced witchcraft. The case against Bridget Bishop includes deposition taken mainly from lay people who came forward to accuse the Bishop Bridget of witchcraft. She had some of classic attributes that made her New England neighbors to incline being associated with the witch. She was alienated from the religious faith of the community because she never attended worship services. Moreover, she ran a tavern where excessive drinking and game playing were common. She was seen as embodying relaxed sexual traits because deponents mentioned her red bodice, which made men to have illicit thoughts about her, and imaged taking her to their beds.
This case focuses attention on the entire issue of deposition evidence, which offers the most useful yet most commonly misused evidence of the Salem episode. This is so because it contains the best collection of main evidence about the daily events of the Salem episode and the deposition testimony has properly indicated what happened. The Judiciary of 1692 understood the limits of such testimony and never integrated its contents into indictments. An affliction of the Bishop happened before the eyes of witnesses during the examinations. The depositional tales against bishop could not be corroborated with the same certainty since they applied to witchcraft.
Therefore, on the first deposition Samuel Cray aged 42 years, testified against the Bishop. He explained how the bishop practiced witchcraft in the society. He gave accounts of how he saw a woman who kept on appearing and vanishing, which was the traits of a witch. In the second deposition the Reverend John Hale argued that Bishop entertained people in her house at an unreasonable hour in the night where they drunk and played shovelboard which could motivate other families and young people into immoral acts of corruption. He explained how the bishop was promoting corruption, disorder in the society and how most of the time she seemed distracted. Similarly, the deposition 5 where John and William Bly testified against the bishop pointed out that Oliver, who was also accused of witchcraft, was once living together with the Bishop. This could also prove that the bishop was a witch.
The depositions 6 comprised John Bly and Rebecca Bly, who argued that Bridget Bishop admitted she was practicing witchcraft for about 20 years and when she was making this confession snake craft her shoulders and into her bosom. They argued that being employed by the bishop, Oliver took down the cellar wall of the old house, where she formerly lived and said the deponents in holes belonged to the said cellar (Rosenthal, 1995). This deposition ascertained that bishop used to put the pins in the dolls, but they could not give reasonable accounts in the court. The depositions concerning the dolls extremely incriminated bishop because there was a chance that she was indeed a practicing witch.
Another element in the depositions against the bishop is the examination of her body for the witch’s marks, which made her appear as something of a folk heroine in both depositions. The deposition of her use of image magic also indicated that she was a witch. This is reflected in the Samuel depositions where he testified that bishop brought his sundry pieces of lace some of which were so short that he could not see their use. This was later interpreted to mean that the bishop was a witch given that she wore a red paragon bodice, leaving the impression that she dressed in a higher flashy fashion than what was allowed in the community (Rosenthal, 1995). Her laces being larger than usual, was taken as a sign of witchcraft. They described her as lusty woman, an American wife of Bath who flaunted with Puritan mores in the public house where drinking, gambling, and insinuated wenching occurred. The depositions indicated that there was much more against Bridge, Bishop than her reputation and her malice.
These depositions made Bridget Bishop to refuse to confess because she already had experience of being accused of witchcraft. This is so because she was used to their alleged accusations, which crucified her despite the lack of clear evidence. We also notice that the depositions against the bishop attributed everything that was unusual to witchcraft. Although these unusual behaviors and projects proved a guilty, her being confused with alleged witch Sarah was extremely against human justices. She was supposed to be accused on the evidence that was provided in court and not alleged accusations. The several charges against witchcraft and that of causing violent in public with her husband made the court to be sure of her guilty because the depositions proved what was in the court. Although the depositions were not good enough for her execution, the court declared her guilt and was taken back to her home where she was hanged.
Although bishop had more depositions than other witchcraft defendant did, it was not the image magic that caused her to be the first witch to be hanged but the flashy lifestyle and the exotic mode of dressing. This made her to be suspected because as the member of a church this dressing did not portray her religion values. Similarly, she engaged in the gossip about stories of her being beaten by her several husbands, which also did not reflect any religion values. Her dubious moral character also crucified her because instead of being a woman with dignity she became mistress of two taverns in the town, as well as drinking and playing forbidden game.
Meanwhile, her total disregard for the standard values of the puritan society made her the main target of alleged accusations of witchcraft, which ended her into fatal ending. Despite being a bishop, she had a habit of dressing inventively than the Puritan women who largely contributed to her conviction and execution (Fichtelberg, 2010). Besides attracting rumors and social disregard, her showy lifestyle was used as evidence in the most depositions and during her trial for witchcraft. It was illogical for these showy costumes to be used by the plain and honest woman because the stylish dressing was considered as a sign and a trap of the devil. However, I think if Bridget Bishop did not show her dubious moral character the puritan society would not target her in the witchcraft accusations. Similarly, I think the puritan society expected her to be an honest woman and not a vice to the young people and the entire society. Therefore, I argue that her lifestyle and immoral character made her the main target of witchcraft accusation, but she could not experience this fate if she could embrace the values that puritan society expected from her.
Fichtelberg, J. (2010). Risk culture: Performance and danger in early America. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Rosenthal, B. (1995). Salem story: Reading the witch trials of 1692. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.