Witch of Edmonton : by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford Paperback
Part of the Revels Student Editions series
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 edition offers a thorough reconsideration of the text with a complete transcription of the original pamphlet by Henry Goodcole.
This edition will be of particular interest not only to students of Renaissance Drama but also of the cultural history of the seventeenth century.
Open University adopted text (for their new Renaissance Drama module).
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 160 pages, facsim.
- Publisher: Manchester University Press
- Publication Date: 07/10/1999
- Category: Plays, playscripts
- ISBN: 9780719052477
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Review by Cariola
One of my favorite English Renaissance plays, <i>The Witch of Edmonton</i> is a collaboration by three master playwrights of the period. Each took charge of a different plotline: Dekker, the true-life story of Elizabeth Sawyer, a poor, elderly woman executed for witchcraft; Rowley, the comic plot of the dull-brained but innocent Cuddy Banks, whose greatest ambition is to play the hobby horse in the upcoming Morris dancing; and Ford, the tragic plot of Frank Thorney, who becomes first a bigamist and then a murderer, all in pursuit of money. Interweaving all three plots is Dog, a devil in disguise who provides Mother Sawyer with power and companionship, who the affable Cuddy attempts to reform from his devil-dog ways, and who pushes Frank Thorney into murdering Susan, his clingy second wife. Witchcraft, sex, murder, bloody tokens, ghosts, a devil dog, Morris dancing, women in male disguise, confessions and executions--what more could you ask for in a good piece of Renaissance drama? Social commentary, maybe? Well, there's plenty of that as well: the shift from land-based to money-based economy, the pressure to marry for money while companionate marriage is on the rise, the politics of witchcraft accusations, the diminshment of traditional rural life, the strictures of a patriarchy, and more.Not to be missed if you enjoy early seventeenth-century drama.