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Written early in the 17th century by three of Shakespeares contemporaries Thomas Dekker John Ford and William Rowley this play deals with many interesting issues love money gender disguises revenge forgiveness witchcraft and evil which as we see in the play lurks in the heart of man In this essay I am not going to deal with all the above mentioned themes It is the character of witch and witchcraft craze Ill be interested in The title character of the play is Mother Sawyer a lonely feeble old woman in her own words poor deformed and ignorant who is used as a scapegoat by the villagers of Edmonton for all their woes and is believed to be a witch even though she is not In revenge Mother Sawyer calls on the Devil for a Faustian pact in which she is given magical power She has some fun getting her revenge on the villagers but ultimately the Devil betrays her and she is to be executed The play is by no means a modern materialistic analysis of witchcraft but it is unique in highlighting the scapegoating phenomena as a cause of witchcraft rather than as a justified response to it Some call me Witch And being ignorant of my self they go About to teach me how to be one urging That my bad tongue by their bad usage made so Forespeaks their Cattle doth bewitch their Corn Themselves their Servants and their Babes at Nurse This the enforce upon me and in part Make me to credit it Act II Scene 1 The play also hints that crop failure and disease are natural not caused by witches In reality however witches were mostly blamed for causing such misfortunes eg the death of children or livestock the destruction of crops or the spread of unknown diseases The witchcraft
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