Ethics take a backseat when the economy is taken into consideration. In an era when half of the population was disadvantaged by the law, women were the obvious targets during the Salem trials of 1692. Any hint of progress for women was fought against, due to the patriarchal society that wanted economic prosperity to be for the benefit of men alone. The accused and some even terminated victims of the trials were by majority women who had some kind of autonomy over their wealth.
Owning property meant economic security, and of those accused, this often held true that the women were to inherit or already had some ownership over land. This made them prime targets in a society that believed men to be better than women. It’s a historic and modern trend to take advantage of the weaker members of society. Without wealth, education, or benefactors, if one of these people comes upon the good fortune of better their status in life, there will be a movement to deprive them of this. Human selfishness and a belief in the superiority of one person over the other is often the root of injustice. The women accused in the Salem witch trials were victims of injustice.
One example being Mary English, who inherited a her late father’s business as a merchant. Her mother, Elinor, worked to pay off the debt on the company, but as soon as she achieved her goals, she was accused of witchcraft. At the time, the accusation didn’t hold weight and didn’t go far. But when Mary fully took on the inheritance when her mother passed, she and her husband were targeted in the witch trials. Mary and her husband fled as they feared for their lives and their land and business was confiscated by the law. This is an example when there was an economic benefit to injustice.
It can be argued that Mary English could have fought the accusations, but her life and her spouse’s were in danger. I think the true blame is on her neighbors and society which was built so that equality couldn’t be achieved. In a time of rampant fear, ethics weren’t in the self-interest of the law enforcement and members of the community.It was easier to take advantage of the vulnerable, to the lengths of execution or forcing them to give up their wealth. The women accused were already or had potential to become powerful members of their society. This opportunity was cut short and we won’t know if they could have gone further and become more influential if they hadn’t been targeted. Their gender clearly was an influence in a time when America did not look kindly on women having any sort of power outside of the roles allotted to them.