A Script for the Witch: Witches' Voices in Two British Dramas
- Preternature: Critical and Historical Studies on the Preternatural
- Penn State University Press
- Volume 8, Number 2, 2019
- pp. 202-230
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This article examines two dramas that use historical representations of witchcraft and work from original sources as a starting point: The Witch of Edmonton by Rowley, Dekker, and Ford (1621) and Witchcraft by Joanna Baillie (1836). Whilst the majority of those convicted of witchcraft in the early modern period were women, finding a female voice in historical sources is difficult. What is striking about these plays therefore, is the prominent voice allocated to the witch figures on stage. This not only presents a challenge to the control of the official narratives but draws attention to the social mechanisms at work in the conviction of a witch. The main argument is that the plays address an absence in the source materials; by presenting what can be termed as "missing evidence" through the voice of the witch, the plays contribute to the debate on witchcraft and force the audience to judge anew.