Giles Corey plays an antagonistic role in Em's life in Suffer a Witch. He is a person who captures the imagination. He plays a significant role in the Crucible, by Arthur Miller. Longfellow wrote a poem about him. Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman wrote a play named Giles Corey, Yeoman.
Personality in Suffer a WitchEdit
Giles is domineering and antagonistic to Em. In turn, she treats him as if he is feeble-minded.
He was nearly eighty when he was hanged and thus became an immortal witch. He currently owns a large horse ranch with a large vegetable garden near the border of Massachusetts. He lives there with his young wife.
Historic Giles CoreyEdit
For all that's written about Giles Corey, we know very little about the actual man.
Here's a rundown of the most pertinent facts:
- Giles Corey refused to enter a plea into the court. Because he refused to participate in his own case, he was pressed to death over the course of three days. It is said that his only answer to "What do you plea?" was "more weight," encouraging them to put more rocks on him.
- He was taken to a nearby field, laid face down with a piece of wood on his back. The stones were placed on his back. Two days in, the sheriff is said to have pushed his tongue inside his mouth.
- He is said to have cursed the Sheriff and the town of Salem just before he died. In turn, his ghost is said to be seen in Salem is in crisis, such as the Great Salem fire of 1914.
- He was buried in the mass grave with the others convicted of witchcraft.
- His testimony against his third wife, Martha Corey, sealed her fate. Not only did he testify that he had seen her "kneeling at the hearth" after he went to bed, but he also denied telling her that the examiners would confirm what she was wearing, making the examiners believe she had witchlike psychic powers.
- He was nearly 80 years old when the witch hysteria hit Salem Village. It's unlikely that he could read or write.
- There no clear, factual reason that Giles Corey forced the Sheriff to press him to death. Many have suggested he refused to participate in his trial as a way to save his land from being taken by the court. (He owned a large tract of land called the "Salem Farms," which is near present day Peabody.) However, he had already deeded his land to his daughters and son-in-laws.
- He was known to have a hot temper. In 1676, he beat to death an indentured servant. He was convicted of this crime and fined.