Subliminal mentality: reasoning behind natural instincts and fears that have captivated and motivated the human mind throughout literature

Student: Mikaela Marbot*
Mentor: Cara Erdheim Kilgallen
Major: English

This paper will delve into the dark world of Puritan society in early America. Focusing on three components—the fear of the unknown, an innate desire to belong, and the animal within the core of human essence— discussion will guide readers through the hysterical minds of early ancestors living on the desolate shores of the New World, and will track the development and perpetuation of a subliminal mentality that is still seen influencing modern Americans today. Spurred by the ever-present fear of the unknown, the Puritan experience in America was one of terrifying religion, brainwashing group thought, and scandalous condemnations. Scared into community by demanding pastors and fearsomely motivated sermons, Puritans never had the opportunity to establish feelings of security or comfort. Prompted by irrational group thought and fear, the Puritans eventually hosted one of the most terrifying periods of American History: The Salem Witch Trials. With analysis of the trials and the logic behind persecuting rationale, this capstone is committed to finding answers for why the trials occurred and will even venture further into the subliminal mindset to question what it truly means to be human. Is humanity a façade the guilty created in order to feel better? Do all humans have potential to be corrupt, murderous, and evil? The subliminal mentality suggests that the answer is yes—humans are simply fearful creatures who dread a lack of knowledge—and the Puritans are excellent examples.

*Honors Senior