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Education I believe played a major role in increasing the tragedies of certain events, such as the Salem witch trials, and the success for individuals like Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney. When defining education in this context it isn’t just the level of schooling, but also having the cultural and religious knowledge of people who differ from our own lifestyle. The lack of religious understanding that took place in 1692 Salem lead to the to jump from logical reasoning to fear, and due to this the slaughtering of many innocent women took place. Being educated to learn to critically process information would have greatly assisted in evaluating what was happening, and could have enabled them to identify that the root of their belief that “God had loosed Satan upon the village” grew from fear and not reason (Ray, 2009). Thomas Brattle, a Harvard graduate living during the time of the trials, writes a compelling letter to a clergyman describing the illogical and unjust proceedings of the trials. Brattle argues “that the witches’ meeting, the Devil’s Baptism, and mock sacraments, which they oft speak of, are nothing else but the effect of their fancy, depraved and deluded by the Devil, and not a Reality to be regarded or minded by any wise man,” further demonstrating how an education could have led to more wise men that could have critically evaluated the situation (Ray, 2009).
The trials can be used to show the effects of a lack of education and the inability to process evidence without bias or fear eluding your view, however there are many people who prospered in the book possibly due to their education and life experiences. For example, Elizabeth Lucas Pinckney, a woman in a time where females couldn’t dream to reach any higher than being a wife or mother, at least for most colonial woman, was running her own plantation. This defiance of the norms was evident when Ripper’s text informed she “had more financial responsibility than probably any other woman on the continent” (Ripper, 2008). Eliza didn’t only have a brave and hardworking ethic, but also an education in England that I believe shoved her over the barrier of what women were expected to do. The running of a business or plantation in specific required an abundance of writing and business strategies which would have been nearly impossible to run with the standard education colonists woman received, which “rarely exceeded learning their letters at home” (Ripper, 2009). It’s very apparent given Eliza’s story that education promoted and almost was required to succeed, even though it is also undeniable that Eliza also had other favorable traits that helped with her accomplishments.
It would be unfair to state that having or not having an education could lead to the prosper or demise of different events or people. However, the pairing of an education and drive or other positive attributes appeared crucial in making cumulative good choices that lead to success. The opposite can be said for horrendous outcomes both present in historical events like the Salem witch trials and in people.
Were there any other prominent characters within the chapters, who seemed as if they had an education? If so, what evidence displayed this, and how did their mindset shape other people or events within the readings?
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