Essay about Witches in the Malleus Maleficarum

In the Malleus Maleficarum, Sprenger and Kramers basic argument about the origins of witchcraft is that witchcraft is found chiefly in women due to several reasons that focus on characteristics of women. Sprenger and Kramer argue that witchcraft in women is more probable because women were very nave and impressionable, carnal lust is never satisfied in women, and they are of lower intelligence and weaker memories than men. Women are viewed as very nave and impressionable because they are influenced much easier and therefore they are more likely to become involved with the devil. Women were more credulous, and since the chief aim of the devil is to corrupt faith, therefore he rather attacks them(120). Women being credulous and nave makes it easier for the devil to entice them into witchery. They were also much more impressionable making them prime targets for disembodied spirits to influence them and cause wickedness (120). The spirits referred to are those of evil and without faith, and since women were more vulnerable they would be more likely to abandon faith and be inclined to follow the devil. Sprenger and Kramer state that a wicked woman is by her nature quicker to waver in her faith, and consequently quicker to abjure the faith, which is the root of witchcraft (121). This further shows how much more likely it would be for women to become witches since the naivety and impressionability of women is what would cause the quickness to waver and abjure faith.

Sprenger and Kramer felt the insatiable carnal lust that was part of women led them to witchery because their lust cannot be satisfied and it would lead to involvement with the devil. Proverbs xxx states There are three things which are never satisfied, yea a fourth thing which says not, It is enough; that is, the mouth of the womb (127). Women basically are viewed as women obsessed with sexual encounters that could not be satisfied by man alone, so they in turn would become involved with the devil to fulfill their desires. This is also shown when a woman falsely accuses Joseph because he would not agree to have sex with her and he ends up imprisoned (121).

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As explained in the selection when she hates someone whom she formerly loved, then she seethes with anger and impatience (121). This shows how the lust of the woman who accused Joseph caused her wickedness to accuse him. Sprenger and Kramer saw women of lower intellect and weaker memories than man as evil since the two would cause a lack of discipline resulting in an easier change to the ways of the devil. Women, because of their inferior intellect and memories, would be more likely to follow there own impulses without any sense of what is due (124). These impulses cause evil because they do not take into account anything else other than their desires. As in the story of Laodice, her jealousy over Antiochus love caused the death of his other wife, daughter, as well as herself (124). The deaths are all a result of her lack of discipline and her adhering to impulses which shows how inferior intellects and memories can lead to evil.

In Malleus Maleficarum, it is said that women have slippery tongues and since they are weak, they find an easy and secret manner of vindicating themselves by witchcraft (120). Inferior intellect is the weakness described here. The inability to keep things to oneself shows their inferior intellect in a sense that it is unintelligent to tell people about personal things that could get you in trouble, like witchcraft. The characteristics that women have were the prime reasons that caused witchcraft to be more likely found in women than men. Womens manipulability, naivety, carnal lust, inferior intellect, and weaker memories were the reasons why they were more likely to become enticed by the devil and act in the evil ways of witchcraft.

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Essay about Witches in the Malleus Maleficarum. (2019, Apr 22). Retrieved from