Wonders of the Invisible World by Cotton Mather

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The Trial of Martha Carrier

1. What do you think of Cotton Mather’s account of the trials?

2. What do you think of Cotton Mather A human being after reading his account?

3. For what is Martha Carrier indicted?  Who is brought in to testify against her?

4. To what had Carrier’s children confessed prior to the trial?

5. According to Benjamin Abbot’s testimony, what happened to Abbot after Martha Carrier became angry with him?

6. According to Phoebe Chandler’s testimony, what did Martha Carrier do to Chandler “on a Lord’s day”?  What happened “quickly after” this incident?

7. What information does Mather present in his “memorandum” at the end of the excerpt?

8. What detail in Abbot’s description of his physical ailments is clearly hyperbole?

9. What does Chandler’s testimony that she heard a voice above her head “that she took to be Martha Carrier’s” imply about Carrier?

10. Do you think witnesses might have been likely to fabricate their testimony during the Salem witchcraft trials? Why do you believe they would do such a thing?


Style refers to the way in which a writer expresses his or her thoughts. For example, in The Wonders of the Invisible World, Cotton Mather writes in a plain, direct, journalistic style.


11. How does Mather’s style make his report of the trial seem like an objective, factual account?


Bias means “partiality” or “an inclination toward a certain position.” Although Mather’s report is supposedly an objective account of the trial, his choice of words makes it clear that in reality his report is written from a biased point of view.  For example, his reference to Martha Carrier as a “rampant hag” clearly indicates his negative attitude toward her.


13. How does Mather’s statement that “a number of bewitched persons” were brought in to testify against Carrier reveal his bias?

14. Find two other examples of language that clearly indicates Mather’s bias.

15. Do you think it possible for a person to be completely free of bias? Explain your answer.

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