Book: The Devil The Body And The Feminine Soul In Puritan New England by Elizabeth ReisThis essay examines the cultural construction of gender in early America in order to understand the intersection of Puritan theology, Puritan evaluations of womanhood, and the seventeenth-century witchcraft episodes, in which 78 percent of the accused wee women. The Puritans' earthly perception of women's bodies and souls corresponded to their otherworldly belief concerning Satan's powers. New Englanders considered women more vulnerable to Satan because their image of the soul and its Relationship to the body allowed them to associate womanhood with evil and sin. During the witchcraft episodes, the learned and the common people alike molded belief and interpreted circumstances, in the end cooperating in the construction of their natural and Supernatural world. Of course, this seventeenth-century world was influenced by considerations of gender. Not only did Puritans' Understanding of women's and men's bodies and souls reflect the gendered nature of their social universe, but the supernatural behaviors and powers that they believed the devil conferred on his female and male witches echoed the more mundane gender arrangements of colonial New England.
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Elizabeth Reis - The Devil The Body And The Feminine Soul In Puritan New England