"A Witch? Who is Not?": Engendering Witchcraft on the Shakespearean Stage Public Deposited

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  • May 15, 2019
  • Porter, Caroline
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of English and Comparative Literature
  • The main goal of my thesis is to examine the ways in which expressions of early modern witchcraft can be nontraditionally read into Shakespearean works. I hope to stress how witchcraft, while rooted in the feminine body, is not a practice exclusively performed by the old poor widow women who are commonly associated with it. As the witch of Edmonton herself recognizes, “A witch? Who is not? / Hold not that universal name in scorn then” (4.1.104-105). Reading witchcraft into Shakespeare’s work in nontraditional ways allows the analysis and discussion of witchcraft in the period to break away from the gendered construct it is often relegated to. I hope to emphasize that men, too, can be vulnerable to a marginalized discourse that shares many similarities with witchcraft. By tracking this discourse in Shakespeare’s works, we can further see how witchcraft thinking and language permeates the writing on more than just a superficial level, often shaping social and political conflict and struggles for power in telling ways.
Date of publication
Resource type
  • Floyd-Wilson, Mary
  • Bachelor of Arts
Academic concentration
  • English
Honors level
  • Honors
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduation year
  • 2019
  • English

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