Privacy, Paranoia, and Vice as Maleficent Practice in The Witch of Edmonton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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 statusSubmitted - 5 Jan 2021

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