Female Bodies, Speech, and Silence in The Witch of Edmonton

  • Sarah Johnson McMaster University


Dekker, Rowley, and Ford's sympathetic treatment of a relationship between a witch and her demonic familiar in The Witch of Edmonton works to question and criticize prevailing cultural attitudes that problematically associated liberal female speech with a transgressing female body. This challenge arises from their demonstration that such attitudes are precisely what force Mother Sawyer into a pact with the devil -- a pact that turns out to suddenly enact her persecutors' previously groundless conflation of her speech with her body, in a way that exposes the real horror and absurdity of this association, and the tragic effects it has on Sawyer herself. The fates of other women in the play echo Sawyer's to further expose the unjust paradoxes in attitudes surrounding women's speech.