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The Witch of Edmonton: By William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford
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The Witch of Edmonton: By William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford

3.33  ·  Rating Details  ·  230 Ratings  ·  11 Reviews
The Witch of Edmonton has received considerable attention recently both from scholars and critics interested in witchcraft practices and also from the directors in the theatre. The play, based on a sensational witchcraft trial of 1621, presents Mother Sawyer and her local community in the grip of a witch-mania reflecting popular belief and superstition of the time. This ed ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published October 7th 1999 by Manchester University Press (first published 1658)
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This was another play text I bought because it was one of the plays Beatrix Lehmann was in. She performed as Winifred in the 1936 performance of the play at the Old Vic. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. The play was written in 1621, the same year the actual "Witch of Edmonton" was executed for being a witch. This version of the play had a good basic introduction to the history of witchcraft trials in the UK, as well as analysis of the play and some details of it's past performances. (It makes ...more
Terri Lynn
I just didn't like it. It wasn't the Elizabethan language (play was written centuries ago during Shakespeare's time) because I regularly re-read Shakespeare's sonnets and plays and am well-versed in the language of the times. It was that I thought the play was awful. It centered around a young man who wants to get his inheritance yet fears losing it because he secretly married a house maid after knocking her up, thinking she had been a virgin and not realizing she was already in an affair with t ...more
Sep 12, 2015 Jordan rated it did not like it
Not a fan! Other than the talking devil-dog this was pretty hard going.
Might have a change of rating after studying it in a few weeks time - but at the moment it's not looking hopeful!
This play was interesting. I certainly like Mother Sawyer's portion of the plot, as I find her reasons for making a deal with the Devil understandable, and she is in general a sympathetic character who makes a lot of good points about the unfairness of her position in life. The demon in the guise of a dog that serves her is also an interesting character, and the parts of the plot focused on him and a foolish young man are also fairly good. I didn't really enjoy the part of the plot focused on Fr ...more
Nov 29, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
I thought Elizabeth Sawyer (the eponymous witch) had some excellent speeches. I think the portrayal of her transformation from an isolated old woman who is suspected of witchcraft, into an actual witch that seems to communicate with the Devil was really well-written and interesting. However, 'The Witch of Edmonton' suffers as a whole from forced, jarring plot points such as (view spoiler) ...more
Mary Vogel
Mar 30, 2014 Mary Vogel rated it really liked it
This play is about the importance of words and the power of speech acts to transform individuals and how they relate to society. I think of it has a domesticated version of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus.
Aug 02, 2011 Nicole rated it liked it
It was good to read a play from 16th Century England that wasn't written by Shakespeare. Although there were some similarities between this play and Shakespeare, it was overall a different reading experience. The Witch of Edmonton is described as a tragi-comedy - although there is the deaths expected in a tragedy, there are marriages, reconciliations and humour that you expect to see in a comedy. I am interested in the use of witchcraft as a storytelling device and reading this play has made me ...more
Oct 30, 2008 Celeste rated it really liked it
I read this Renaissance tragedy in grad school and it intrigued me so much I made it the topic of my thesis. It is a rarely studied play that centers around the true story of a old woman charged and hanged for witchcraft in 1621. At the time (back in 1989) when I was working on my thesis, I was heavily into deconstruction and thought to take this very modern critical approach to the play. It is still of interest to me and is a play that I think bears up well even today.
I had to read this for an essay. It was okay, a bit confusing at times but I think I understood what I needed to for my essay.
Apr 06, 2009 Rob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
But see, the bridegroom and bride come; the new pair of Sheffield knives fitted both to one sheath.
Oct 19, 2010 Warilyn rated it liked it
it was to support an annotated bibliography about magic, interesting though.
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William Rowley (1585? – February 1626) was an English Jacobean dramatist, best known for works written in collaboration with more successful writers. His date of birth is estimated to have been c. 1585; he was buried on 11 February 1626. (An unambiguous record of Rowley's death was discovered in 1928, but some authorities persist in listing his death-date as 1642.)
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