Mount Alvernia High School, Newton, Massachusetts

Liane  Moriarty

Sheila  Correia 

Twentieth Century Tourism in Salem, Massachusetts

The Struggle for Female Identity in Liane Moriarty's Novels

The witch trials of seventeenth-century Salem played an important role in the evolution of tourism in nineteenth and twentieth century Salem, Massachusetts. For hundreds of years, people learned about Salemís history regarding the witch trials, but it was not until the twentieth century that the accused witches finally got the justice they deserved. The witchcraft controversy Began in the Puritan-based society of seventeenth century New England, where sharing a common faith made it easier for believers to be swept up in the infamous witch hysteria. After the trials came to an end, Salem Town and Village formed into one, and it was at this time that Salem began its gradual development as a modernized city. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the people of Salem were torn between remembering and memorializing the trials or ignoring their witch-crazed past. It was not until the later twentieth century that people decided to recognize Salemís history and legacy of persecution. Through museums, entertainment, and memorials, the Salem Witch Trials stand as a reminder of injustice and as foundation for Salemís prosperity.

The devastation wrought by the Salem Witch Trials is similar in its intensity to the trauma that Liane Moriartyís female protagonists suffer, causing them to change their views of themselves, others, and life as a whole. Through the crucible of these hardships, each woman has an epiphany that grants her insight into how to overcome the obstacles in her path. In What Alice Forgot, the titular protagonist struggles with both her divorce from her husband Nick and a head injury she suffers that results in memory loss. Before her head injury, Alice was a busy-body who put her social life before her relationship with her husband. Moriarty depicts a great transformation in Alice by showing how she patches up the wounds of her once-failing marriage and starts to put her loved ones before herself as she begins to regain her memory. Through this transformative experience, Alice, along with Moriartyís other female protagonists, learns from her separation and selfishness, and uses this new knowledge to improve her marriage and prioritize her relationship with her family.

Major Works Consulted:

Kallen, Stuart A. The Salem Witch Trials. San Diego: Lucent, 1999.
Moriarty, Liane. The Husbandís Secret. New York: Penguin, 2013.
---. What Alice Forgot. New York: Berkley, 2012.
Phillips, James Duncan. Salem in the Eighteenth Century. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1937.
Photo Credit: Moriarty, Liane. Big Little Lies. New York: Putnam, 2014.