Wives and Witches Preview
This afternoon at 3:40 pm, Dr. Tom Zelman and English and elementary education major Maddie Swenson present Wives and Witches: A Two-Part Consideration of Female Power in Shakespearean Drama in Tower 4119. The presentation is the product of Swenson’s independent study on Shakespeare which produced her paper “Power Play.” Her study arose from her interest in the way female characters were portrayed by Shakespeare. Swenson wrote about the leading ladies in four of Shakespeare’s plays in relation to the power they possessed and the way their power is diminished in the end.
She asks the provocative question, “Why is it that Shakespeare creates such interesting and vibrant characters only to punish them in the end, to draw back the reigns on them, to silence them, or give them bad marriages? Why empower the women in this way and make them so appealing if the ultimate purpose is to cut back and limit them?”
Swenson’s study caused Dr. Zelman to become curious himself about the way in which Shakespeare portrayed women, resulting in the writing and research of his own paper, “Shakespeare’s Weird Sisters: Black Magic Women?” His discovery concluded that the witches in Macbeth were women who had unquestionable power.
“The witches did not have men in their lives whom they were answerable to,” Zelman said.
Dr. Zelman will address the theme of witchcraft in comparison to today’s era, as well as during Shakespeare’s time, by examining the evil the witches are perceived to possess and how that evil was oppressed among the witches. He will demonstrate the differences among the importance witchcraft once held compared to the influence it holds today, the struggles females faced in regards to the attainment of power, and the perspective of witches today in modern society.