Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"Deeds against Nature and monsters by kinde"

This pamphlet by an anonymous author depicts yet another murderous mother. This woman's name is Marth Scambler, and she, unlike many of the other women I've read about, actually admits to killing her infant son. Another difference between this woman and many of the others that I've read about is that she was examined prior to her confession and conviction. The only other narrative of murderous women that mentions an examination is "Newes from the Dead", and even in this pamphlet the examination takes place only after the convicted woman has survived her execution. Although the convicted woman in this case admits her crime, and one can easily see how the crime might be considered detestable, the language of the literature demonizes her as if she isn't human. Within this pamphlet she is referred to as lascivious and monstrous, while her crime is described as heinous and unnatural. The author states that she is "another Caterpillar of nature, a creature more savage than a shee woolfe, more unnaturall than either bird or beast, for every creature hath a tender feeling of love to their young, except some few murtherous-minded strumpets" (4). The author then goes on to describe the crime, relating that she gave birth to a son, and then in order to hide the shame of having become pregnant out of wedlock, she "threw it downe unto a lothsome privy house, therein to give it an undecent grave" (4). The thing that I find interesting about all of these pamphlets is that these women are left with little choice. They have two options. They can keep their children and become outcasts with reputations for being whores, harlots, and indecent women; or they can murder their child and take the chance of avoiding any consequences. The reality within this society is that women are forced into a position which leaves them feeling as if they have no other option.

cited from:
Deeds against Nature and monsters by kinde
EEBO (Early English Books Online)

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