The Witch of Edmonton: Witchcraft, Inversion, and Social Criticism

  • Susan D Amussen University of California, Merced


The witchcraft plot in The Witch of Edmonton is decidedly secondary. The historical context helps us understand it: while belief in witchcraft was near universal, uncertainty always hovered over individual cases. The social criticism articulated by the witch in the play, with its attack on the abuse of the poor (especially poor women) by their neighbours is central to the impact of the play. If those in power are held accountable, the responsibilities of the patriarchs who failed Frank Thorney — his father and master — are also in question. The witch calls into question all those given authority in society.

Author Biography

Susan D Amussen, University of California, Merced

Susan D Amussen ( is professor of history at the University of California – Merced.

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