Friday, May 1, 2009

The Witch of Edmonton - the second half

Within the last half of this play the accused witch meets her end and so does Frank Thorney, but unfortunately Sir Arthur only has to pay a fine. I say unfortunately because he is the one that I wanted to see receive his comeuppance. Sadly, he faced no real consequences for his evil and Frank paid the price instead. The way that the play was set up made it difficult to determine who was really evil. There were at least three different categories within which the characters fell. Sir Arthur, Old Banks, and Frank Thorney all committed crimes against others of their own free will. Frank Thorney felt pushed to commit murder because he saw no other way, while Sir Arthur only wanted to cover up his past sins conveniently and continue to pursue Winnifride. Old Banks on the other hand was just an a**. He treated those around him as if they were unworthy of life, and was the first to make accusations against Sawyer simply because she fell outside of any categorical placement within society. Then of course there is a separate category of evil into which Sawyer, the devil dog, and possibly Young Banks fall. They are aware of an evil that isn't tangible. Young Banks isn't even certain of this evil until his conversation with the devil dog near the end of the play, and all three of these characters could be viewed as scapegoats for the tangible evil within society. Finally there is a category of completely innocent people which includes Somerton and Katherine. These two characters seem completely unaware of the evil that is going on around them and both are duped by the evil doer Frank. At one point within the play it seems as if Somerton might actually become yet another scapegoat. Fortunately this works itself out when Katherine discovers the bloody knife that had been used to kill her sister in Frank's coat.
Overall this play was a great read and it definitely made me think about the different ways that evil can present itself within society. Even today the things that people are most afraid of are the things that we can't recognize at first glance. Serial killers frighten us because they are generally so suave and unrecognizable. Terrorists are frightening because we are unable to identify them right away. The unforeseen danger is definitely the scariest. I'm certain that members of early modern society felt the same way. Of course they would be frightened to think that there were witches living among them. It's just terrible to think about how many innocent people might have been executed as scapegoats for unfortunate and coincidental events, and this play makes the reader think about that.

No comments:

Post a Comment