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Colonial America

It was primarily ethnocentric, exclusionary, and based on human interpretations of a specific religious ideology. Men like Mather believed he and the members of his community who believed as he did maintained a monopoly on virtue and goodness. Such thinking allowed for the justification of treating others uncharitably and unkindly who did not conform to the Puritan ideal of goodness. Mather and those like him felt their “superior” moral stance allowed them to dispense justice against those who believed differently. Mather’s overzealous desire to keep the community “pure” allowed him to paint those who held different beliefs as an “evil other.” He attributed those who practiced witchcraft as being under the powerful influence of “the Devil who has made a dreadful knot of witches in the country, and by the help of witches has dreadfully increases…a more gross diabolism, than ever the world saw before” (Mather 1950, 1).

Authors like Nathaniel Hawthorne protested the religious intolerance exhibited by such fanaticism in works like Young Goodman Brown. Goodman Brown meets a mysterious man in the woods who is portrayed as the devil. During the encounter, the man tells Brown he is not the first to walk this path, “I have been well acquainted with your family…I helped your grandfather, the constable, when he lashed the Quaker woman so smartly through the streets…and it was I that


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Colonial America. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 06:08, October 23, 2014, from
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