|About the Book|
The Witches of Lancashire was written at the time of the witch trials in Lancashire in 1633-1634 and, although the real women accused of witchcraft were actually in custody at the time of writing, the play is a comedy not a tragedy. It presents the witches as mischievous and unruly rather than evil - they play pranks but nobody is severely hurt. The play derives most of its humour from social chaos, whether it is servants inverting their roles with their masters, or wives rebelling against their husbands.The introduction quotes a contemporary review by Nathaniel Tomkyns who deems it a merry and excellent play despite the fact that there be not in it...any poetical genius, or art, or language. For the most part I agree with this, although I thought the scene where Generous lives up to his name and forgives his wife for witchcraft and decides to stick by her was very moving, and quite poetic! The Witch of Edmonton explores the social position of women/witches much more, but I think The Witches of Lancashire works well as an opportunistic comedy.