As evidence of manufactured accusations started surfacing, Cotton Mather (who oversaw the very last of the trials that his father, Increase Mather, had essentially started) eventually redefined the nature of witchcraft as requiring physical rather than spectral evidence (which essentially dried up the entire process (Wendell, 278) This unseen force caused people to fall into fits, feel pains in their arms and legs like biting and pricking, bark like dogs, grovel on the ground like hogs, and even turn suicidal.
Psychotic hallucinations were frightening." (Carlson 6) The symptoms that the afflicted had were convulsive fits that were grotesque and violent.
The answer is difficult because there are many factors and events that helped create and influence the trials.
Although it is a simple question, it does not have an easy answer.
People who opposed the trials, who spoke out against the establishment or in support of the accused could easily be interpreted as being in support of the witches and, thus by extension, witches themselves (Lindley 17) The idea of the witch was one that found roots deep within Puritan religious practice.
"Colonial New Englanders drew from a long tradition of tales an witchcraft rituals that described Satan's temptations and crafty ways," (Reis 61) Once the anti-witch hysteria went into full gear, no one was safe - more than twenty people had been executed as witches (including a minister), another half-dozen died in jail, and only seven people accused did not face either fate (Institute for the Advanced Study of the Humanities, n pag).
Out of the accused witches of pre-Salem Massachusetts, twenty-five of the thirty-four suspects were women" (Weisman 76) In addition, David Fremon, author of The Salem Witchcraft Trials, "self-expression, self-assertion, or opposition to the community were signs of sin." (Fremon 26) The sudden mystery of the Salem Village "afflictions" fell into this category as well Hoffer says that John Gaule half-joked that "[E]very old woman with a wrinkled face, a furr'd brow, a hairy lip, a gobber tooth, a squint eye, a squeaking voice, or a scolding tongue" was fair game for the accusation of witch.
(Hoffer 5) Although the situation may not have been that bad, it may well have been as events leading to the persecution of so-called witches were just as weak and flimsy According to Mary Norton, author of In the Devil's Snare, the "witchcraft crisis" began in the middle of January 1661, which resulted in legal action against 144 people.
More factors that play out in the causes of these witch hunts are the fears of the people.
So many people were put to death as a result of the actions of their "friends", relatives and neighbors.