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Witch Web Hunt

witchfly.gif (8335 bytes)You are on a mission... to hunt down witches... but not like they did in the old days.  Instead, you are going to hunt through the Internet to find out information about the origins of witchcraft and how people that were presumed to be witches were treated.  Simply follow the directions below and you will learn more about witches and the witch hunts that were prevalent during the time of Shakespeare. 



Disclaimer:  Please note that this site does not condone or acknowledge the acts of witchcraft, the belief of paganism, or the like.  Instead, this site is merely a place where more information can be gained regarding the history surrounding the witch hunt craze during 1100 - 1700 in England and America.

Answer your questions on a separate sheet of paper.  Use the numbers and letters below to indicate which question you are answering.  When you click a web site it will open a new browser window, simply close the window when you are done with that link.

1.  Brainstorm as many ideas as you can about witches.  What do you think of when you think of the word "witch."

2.  Okay, there have been TV shows like "Bewitched" and "Sabrina, the Teenage Witch," movies like "Practical Magic," "The Witches of Eastwick," "Hocus Pocus" and "The Blair Witch Project," characters and books like Witchy Poo, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Wendy - The Good Little Witch, The Wicked Witch of the West, Glenda - The Good Witch of the North, plays like MACBETH and THE CRUCIBLE and much more.  There have been beautiful witches and witches that are ugly old hags.  When you think of a witch, what does she look like?   What characteristics do you find?  List as many characteristics as you can.

3.  Now, let's look at one person's idea about what witches could look like.   Go to the following web site:

  1. Look at the painting by Colin.  How would you describe the witches in the painting to someone who has never seen the picture?  In a paragraph, create a word "painting" of your own based on what you see.
  2. What is the title of this painting?

4.  Our next unit will be Shakespeare's play, MACBETH.  He has some ideas based on the notions of his time (the early 17th century) about witches that are shown in his plays.  For more information about witches and Shakespeare, go to the following web site:

  1. What is the title of this page?
  2. Read the second paragraph.  When did the first sanctioned witch-hunt occur?
  3. "Most of the Shakespearean plays have some references to witches."  Based on the second paragraph, what may have influenced Shakespeare to include witches?

5.  Shakespeare was a writer who had to be concerned about who was going to support his plays.  Since he wrote during the time when England was ruled by a monarchy (kings and queens), he also had to consider his "audience."  For more information on how the monarch may have felt about witches during the time of Shakespeare, go to the following web site:

Read the first paragraph and answer the questions below:

  1. When was MACBETH written?
  2. Who was the monarch at that time?
  3. What did a "Witch Master General" do?
  4. Who wrote this article and what organization does she represent?

6.  Many believe that the witch hunts were a way of controlling women and their strengths.  To find out more about the consequences of the witch hunts, go to the following web site:

Read the first paragraph under the picture and answer the following questions:

  1. How many women were estimated to be put to death for being thought to be witches?
  2. What was the source that the author acknowledged after making this statement?   (Hint:  look for parentheses...)  What year was this source created? (Hint, where would you find citing information?)

7.  It was believed that witches used familiars (animals that they could put their spirit into) and differentcauldron.jpg (26522 bytes) tools to weave their magic.  In Shakespeare's play MACBETH, the three witches use a cauldron.  Look at the following web site to get more information at what cauldron's were supposedly used for.

  1. What were cauldrons usually made of?
  2. What could witches supposedly cause if they dumped the contents of their cauldron in the ocean?

8.  The witch hunt craze moved to the New World too, but in a smaller way.   Go to the following web site to find out more:

Read the first two paragraphs of this page and answer the following:

  1. When was the niece of Reverend Samuel Parris of Salem Village diagnosed as "bewitched?"
  2. How many died as a result of the witch trials at Salem?
  3. Who accused or "cried out" against the 150 people that were tried for witchcraft?

9.  Now that you have finished your scavenger hunt for information on witches, how have your ideas about witches changed?  Write a paragraph describing the ways that your ideas of witches have changed.  What do you know now that you did not know at the beginning of this web search?

10.  How about some fun?  Check out this site and try your hand at hang man.

Make sure you turn your work in.  If you have any comments or suggestions regarding how we could improve this hunt, send an email to

Wednesday, March 14, 2001
Rancocas Valley Regional High School
Mr. Roger Budd, Mrs. Debbie Gilmore, Ms. Lara Hill, Mrs. Jan Walker