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The Witch of Edmonton: By William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford
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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Oct 29, 2014 Mel rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2015 Terri Lynn rated it did not like it · review of another edition
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
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
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)[Frank's abrupt, unquestioning murder of his second wife, Susan. I also found Susan's meek acceptance of her ...more
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
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.
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.)More about William Rowley...