Elizabeth Sawyer Symbolism

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Written and performed in the same year as the execution and persecution of Elizabeth Sawyer in 1621, William Rowley, Thomas Dekker and John Ford composed The Witch of Edmonton, drawing inspiration from the pamphlet written by Henry Goodcole entitled The Wonderful Discovery of Elizabeth Sawyer, a Witch, late of Edmonton. While the pamphlet describes her as a bad woman, the Sawyer of the play is portrayed more sympathetically. The Sawyer of the Goodcole’s pamphlet own property and is able to sell her brooms whereas the Sawyer in this play is completely disenfranchised both socially and economically (Bonavita, 2006, p.81). So after being treated viciously and tormented with verbal abuse, rumours of being a witch and physical violence for being…show more content…
The devil asks for her to willingly give her blood, otherwise, he would ‘tear her to pieces’. As a result, she gave her ‘consent’ to the devil, but also as she believed that he could kill Young Banks, she learns afterwards that the devil cannot kill Young Banks since his faith is too great (Rowley, Dekker and Ford, 1999, 1.2:164-174). This is an example of how Elizabeth Sawyer wasn’t empowered in her own right. However, after her diabolical contract with the dog, her status improves and she is then able to use her speech as a way of charming and obtaining money. Additionally, when Cuddy Banks enters the stage, not only does her pay her for her newly found charm but her also titles her as a “motherly woman” (Rowley, Dekker and Ford, 1999, 2.1:208) giving her a place in a familial relationship and, therefore, a place in…show more content…
This new act meant that anyone who practiced witchcraft, consulted, entertained or rewarded any evil spirit or harmed any person would be “Lawfully convicted and attained, [would] suffer the pains of death as a felon … and [would] lose the privilege and benefit of clergy and sanctuary.” (1 Jac. 1, c. 12). In addition to this, it also meant that anyone was able to be convicted as a witch since the church was no longer involved with the sentencing resulting in giving people such as Matthew Hopkins (1620-1647) and John Stearne (1610-1670) a chance to become self-proclaimed ‘witch-hunters’. Since Sawyer not only makes a pact with the devil, she also feeds him her blood, according to the law during the time this play was written she would have been killed anyway for her association with

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