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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: February ::
Re: Devils and Witches
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.0358 Tuesday, 25 February 2003

[1]     From:   John D. Cox <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Feb 2003 14:00:24 -0500
        Subj:   Devils and Witches

[2]     From:   Roger Parris <
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        Date:   Monday, 24 Feb 2003 11:33:03 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 14.0356 Devils into Witches?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           John D. Cox <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Feb 2003 14:00:24 -0500
Subject:        Devils and Witches

Harriet Walter's claim about devils and witches is wrong in its second
part, if not its first (for which I know no evidence).  Devil plays were
extremely popular in the seventeenth century:  old ones like Dr. Faustus
and The Merry Devil of Edmonton were constantly revived, and new ones
were written virtually every year up to the closing of the theaters.
For a chronological list, see John D. Cox, The Devil and the Sacred in
English Drama, 1350-1642, pp.  209-211.

John Cox
Hope College

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Roger Parris <
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Date:           Monday, 24 Feb 2003 11:33:03 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 14.0356 Devils into Witches?
Comment:        Re: SHK 14.0356 Devils into Witches?

>In a recently-published essay on Macbeth, the
>actress Harriet Walter
>writes:
>
>"Shakespeare himself had to make adjustments to keep
>up with stage
>fashion.  Originally he had three devils in place of
>the weird sisters,
>but the theatrical currency of devils was already
>starting to devalue
>through overuse, and they were more likely to induce
>laughter than
>fear."
>
>I had never come across this datum before, and
>Ms.Walter cites no
>authority for it.  Is there any?
>
> --Charles Weinstein

This is definitely unknown to seventeenth century tradition. And I do
not recollect Chambers or the
Furness Variorum listing anything similar for the eighteenth or
nineteenth centuries.

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