Paired Texts > Witchcraft in Salem
We've identified these texts as great options for text pairings based on similar themes, literary devices, topic, or writing style. Supplement your lesson with one or more of these options and challenge students to compare and contrast the texts. To assign a paired text, click on the text to go to its page and click the "Assign Text" button there.
In "The Dancing Plague of 1518," the informational text explores the medieval case of sudden, violent dancing in a small French village.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “The Dancing Plague of 1518” and ask students to compare these two historical phenomena. What potential causes or factors have been considered in both events? How did people react to these extraordinary events? What explanations did they provide? How would we consider these phenomena today?
In the short story "Feathers," a woman is taught a lesson about the negative effects of spreading rumors.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “Feathers” and ask students to consider how rumors impacted this historical event. How did gossip lead to serious consequences for the people of Salem?
The informational text "McCarthyism" discusses the United States' fear of communism during the Cold War and the unfair trials led by Senator Joseph McCarthy to root out supposed communist spies.Pair “McCarthyism” with “Witchcraft in Salem” and ask students to compare the events of the Red Scare to the Salem Witch Trials. Ask them to discuss similar concepts of “witch hunts” and scapegoats. How can we compare the threat of witchcraft to the threat of communism? Are we just as prone today to this type of hysteria as they were in the McCarthy era and in colonial America?
In Nathaniel Hawthorne's "Young Goodman Brown," a religious man goes into the woods against his wife's wishes and meets several obstacles that challenge his faith.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “Young Goodman Brown” to provide students with additional information regarding one of the events taking place in Salem during the time the story takes place. How would the suspicion of witchcraft in Salem influence Goodman Brown’s actions throughout the text?
In "Puritan Laws and Character," historian Henry William Elson discusses the Puritans, their laws, and the impact they made on early America.Pair “Puritan Laws and Character” with “Witchcraft in Salem” and ask students to discuss the lives and culture of the Puritans. How did Puritan religious beliefs influence their society and laws? How does understanding the typical Puritan mindset inform the students’ understanding of the Salem Witch Trials?
"Herd Behavior" describes how individuals change when they are part of a crowd.Pair “Herd Behavior” with “Witchcraft in Salem” and ask students to discuss the concepts of herd behavior and mass hysteria. What — besides “witches” — did the people of Salem have to fear? How did this fear manifest? Do students think society today is more or less prone to this instinct than the Puritans were in the 1600s?
In the informational text "The Late Troubles of Salem," Marjorie Rackliffe discusses the witch trials that took place in Salem and their eventual end.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “The Late Troubles at Salem” to provide students with additional information about the Salem witch trials. How does “Witchcraft in Salem” define “spectral evidence” and how does this contribute to readers’ understanding of the unfair nature of the trials? How do both text explore what contributed to the end of the trials?
In the informational text "Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials" Merrit Kennedy discusses the memorial established at the site in Salem where 19 people were hanged for witchcraft.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “Salem Memorializes Those Killed During Witch Trials” to provide students with additional information about the Salem witch trials. Ask students to discuss what the trials consisted of and why the accused were unfairly convicted. How do students think the memorial helps Salem come to terms with its history?
In the informational text "'Witch' Burnings Haunt Kenyan Tribe," Gwen Thompkins discusses accusations of witchcraft in Africa, and the burning of 11 accused witches in 2008.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “‘Witch’ Burnings Haunt Kenyan Tribe” and ask students to compare the persecution of people accused of witchcraft in the two texts. What was used as evidence against the “witches” in the two texts? How do students think fear contributed to the violence enacted on the accused witches in the two texts?
In "The Salem (and Other) Witch Hunts," Mike Kubic explores the Salem witch trials, and the various other prejudiced hunts that have occurred throughout history.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “The Salem (and Other) Witch Hunts” to provide students with additional information concerning the Salem witch trials. How did citizens heighten the fear and suspicion present in Salem during this time?
In "The Aged Mother," a mother's wisdom and love for her son help to change an unjust law.Pair “Witchcraft in Salem” with “The Aged Mother” and ask students to compare the effects of following the crowd. What happened to the people of Salem who followed the crowd? Why did the people of Salem follow the crowd by going along with the witch accusations and trials? Why did the people in “The Aged Mother” go along with the crowd and kill their elderly family? In each text, what happened to people who did not follow the crowd? How was change made in each text?