Playing With Power: How Connections To Hecate Strengthen Subversive Women

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Claire Brown (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Susan Staub

Abstract: William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Thomas Middleton’s The Witch are two English plays that consider the demonization of the domestic woman in early modern society, using the figure of the witch as a representation of these vilified figures. I argue that Hecate’s addition to these plays offers new insights into early modern English thoughts on the threat of ambiguous figures and states of being, this ambiguity fighting against the patriarchal timeline in a way that threatens to break the social codes supporting and propagating the patriarchy. In my research, I found that the domestic woman was feared for reasons that overlap with that of the witch: the image of the woman as mother particularly carries with it connotations of power that may be threatening to the function of the husband in the home, in turn questioning the reign of the man at the head of the community, all the way up through the hierarchies of society. I specifically discuss Lady Macbeth and the Weird Sisters from Macbeth as well as Francisca, Isabella, the Duchess, and Hecate from Middleton’s tragicomedy as characters who emphasize specific cultural fears about the domestic woman not aligning with patriarchal standards or with patriarchal categorizations. The liminality of their natures connects them with the threshold and witchcraft goddess Hecate, held in the early modern cultural imaginary as a figure specifically concerned with people caught in the in-between of one evolutionary category to the next.

Additional Information

Brown, C. (2020). Playing With Power: How Connections To Hecate Strengthen Subversive Women. Unpublished Master’s Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2020
William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Thomas Middleton, The Witch, Hecate, Women's Studies, Subversive women

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