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Flight on the Jacobean Stage
International Journal of Literature and Arts
Volume 2, Issue 5, September 2014, Pages: 192-210
Received: Sep. 17, 2014; Accepted: Sep. 29, 2014; Published: Oct. 10, 2014
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Author
Shokhan Rasool Ahmed, English Department, University of Sulaimani, Sulaimani/Kurdistan, Iraq
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Abstract
This study is concerned with the historical and theatrical aspects of Middleton’s The Witch. Among the questions it will address are which sources Middleton drew on for this play, and to what extent his witches differ from those in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. This chapter (paper) also considers the question of whether the treatment of witchcraft in Middleton’s The Witch belongs to the English or the Continental tradition. While the historical circumstances of witchcraft ideas are important for an understanding of this play, this paper will demonstrate that questions of genre and visual spectacle are equally important; especially it will argue that the play’s comedy and its visual aspects are mutually dependent. In raising the issue of why the play is categorized as tragicomedy, I examine how comedy and technology come together in this play. Finally, this study explores how the play would have worked on stage, and especially how the witchcraft scenes would have been staged to create a theatrical spectacle: what props, or other staging devices were needed, and how these were adapted during the Renaissance period. The question is also raised here as to when the machinery for staging flying witches came into existence, and whether the stage directions of the supernatural scenes in The Witch and some of Shakespeare’s later plays, Cymbeline and The Tempest, were originally written by the actual authors or scrivener. This paper also examines differences in stage directions for supernatural characters between early modern and contemporary editions of the above plays.
Keywords
Stage Directions in Thomas Middleton’s The Witch, Hecate and her Flight at the Blackfriars, Shakespeare’s Cymbeline and The Tempest
To cite this article
Shokhan Rasool Ahmed, Flight on the Jacobean Stage, International Journal of Literature and Arts. Vol. 2, No. 5, 2014, pp. 192-210. doi: 10.11648/j.ijla.20140205.17
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