• The supernatural, the demonic, and witchcraft in early modern English plays : Macbeth, The Witch, The Witch of Edmonton, and Doctor Faustus

      Schojbert, Haley (2020-12)
      The Tragedy of Macbeth (1606) by William Shakespeare, The Witch (1616) by Thomas Middleton, The Witch of Edmonton (1621) written by William Rowley, Thomas Dekker, and John Ford, and Doctor Faustus (1589-1592) by Christopher Marlowe all contain different stage representations of the witch and the demonic. In this thesis, I aim to understand the cultural and social structures that enabled witchcraft accusations, not as a coordinated effort on behalf of the Church to kill women, but rather a progression of ideologies and religious beliefs regarding magic and how to maintain social hegemony. I aspire to challenge our modern tendency to explain witchcraft accusations as a conspiratorial result of patriarchal institutions attacking the bodies of women, and to frame these accusations as multi-faceted, organically growing phenomena that ensured small village communities adhered to a social order. While it is tempting to view representations of the witch through the lens of secular feminist resistance against patriarchy, it is important to reconstruct our readings of these works as being part of a theocratic society and as existing within a network of complex religious beliefs because these plays were originally seen by the credulous eyes of the early modern public.