Privacy and Maleficent Practice in The Witch of Edmonton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

Abstract

Winifred’s self-description as a “devil” in The Witch of Edmonton ’s opening moments
draws attention away from its devilish familiar. It outlines an independent maleficence
beyond the blood-letting rituals of early modern witchcraft pacts. This article shows that
the devil-dog’s autonomous behavior in this play satirizes the pact that it makes with the
witch figure; Dog’s allegiances with the play’s non-magical characters in secluded and
unobserved spaces ensures that a subtle form of diabolism takes these pacts’ places.
This diabolism lies in characters’ inner evils; Frank Thorney and Young Banks’ lustful
thoughts for Winifred and Katherine within secluded chambers and a deserted “peasefield”, coupled with Sawyer’s tirade against her neighbors within her “ruined cottage”,
communicate an accessible and minimalist form of diabolical magic that early modern
pamphlets and court records miss. The article, then, provides a lens through which to
explore popular understandings about witchcraft in early-seventeenth-century England.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPreternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural
Publication statusIn preparation - 15 Dec 2020

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