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Witch of Edmonton, The

Witch of Edmonton, The

Thomas Dekker, Arthur F Kinney, John Ford, William Rowley

ISBN: 9780713642537

This tragi-comedy took as foundation the news report of the execution for witchcraft of Elizabeth Sawyer, as related by Henry Goodcole. However, the superstructure of love, bigamy and pretension was given at least as much weight. Both plots echoed the soc

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It is a historical phenomenon that while thousands of women were being burnt as witches in early modern Europe, the English - although there were a few celebrated trials and executions, one of which the play dramatises - were not widely infected by the witch-craze. The stage seems to have provided an outlet for anxieties about witchcraft, as well as an opportunity for public analysis. The Witch of Edmonton (1621) manifests this fundamentally reasonable attitude, with Dekker insisting on justice for the poor and oppressed, Ford providing psychological character studies, and Rowley the clowning. The village community of Edmonton feels threatened by two misfits, Old Mother Sawyer, who has turned to the devil to aid her against her unfeeling neighbours, and Frank, who refuses to marry the woman of his father's choice and ends up murdering her. This edition shows how the play generates sympathy for both and how contemporaries would have responded to its presentation of village life and witchcraft.

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