“The Wonders Of The Invisible World”: Summary of Cotton Mather’s Book

In the year of 1692, a major historical event took place in Salem, Massachusetts. The Salem Witch Trials took hundreds of innocent lives over the fact that those people were accused of practicing Witchcraft. There were many factors that caused the upbringing of the Trials, but one that had a major impact was Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders of the Invisible World”. Cotton Mather, a renowned minister at the time believed that Salem was being watched by Satan and that he was using Witchcraft to corrupt the land and the people Salem. While many still don’t understand what pushed Mather to the conclusion of witchcraft, Rachel Walker’s Salem Witch Trials in History and Literature explains how Mather was influenced by Goodwin family’s Daughter Martha. Martha’s symptoms were seen as effects of witchcrafts but as Walker explained, there were nothing other than “clinical hysteria”.

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So let’s research more detail this book in “Cotton Mather’s “The Wonders Of The Invisible World” Summary”. Cotton Mather’s writing of “The Wonders of the Invisible World” shows the reader how his religious beliefs, coincidence and meekly supported evidences spread of fear in Salem thus resulting in the Witch Hunt.

One aspect that’s really prominent throughout the passage was the idea that the Devil wanted the land the Christian people and that he would stop at nothing to acquire it. This sense of fear can be seen as driven by the belief in Christianity. The fear that Witches were plotting the downfall of the people Salem could also be seen as Mather’s primary motivation to write this passage. Not only does he say that the people of Salem are being persecuted but he also compares them to how Christians in the Bible were persecuted. “He has wanted his incarnate legions to persecute use, as people of God have in the other hemisphere been persecuted”. “He” in that quote was referring to the Devil, which ties in with the reason why used this Biblical reference. It could be an interpretation of urgency toward the issue in order make the reader believe his claims and take action against the Witch epidemic. Further into the passage, Mather tries to give more realistic claims by describing how a witch that was present “more than 40 years ago” foretold of a day when Salem would be plagued by this infestation of witches.

David Levin, a literary critic confirms Mather’s view on the Devil’s plot in the article “Did the Mathers Disagree about the Salem Witchcraft Trials?”. Even though Levin confirms that Mather believed the witches were real, he explains how Mather wrote “The Wonders of the Invisible World” knowing that it would ignite a witch hunt. Mather’s implication that some over 20 people have signed the Devil’s book would cause readers to begin fearing others in their community and inevitably, that resulted in neighbors accusing neighbors. Looking back at the Witch Trials, Confessing was the one way ticket to freedom after being accused of Witchcraft and many did take that option. Levin believed by allowing one’s self to acknowledge false claims, not only was the person supporting Mather’s beliefs but also spread fear throughout the town.

Throughout Mather’s “The Wonders of the invisible world”, there are 5 trials that he documented but only one will be discussed and that would be The Trial of Martha Carrier.


11 February 2020

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