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date: 12 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

While many historians of witchcraft have contrasted witch and wife, not only assuming that most accused women were unmarried but placing them at opposite ends of a gendered moral continuum, this essay explores how the witch wife depicted in early modern pamphlets and plays, standing at one of the many crossroads of law and literature, condenses and expresses concerns about what all wives want and what kinds of bargains wives would make if they could. In the witch wife, we can see the embodiment of wishes that can change the world, of fantasies that materialize. Lurking behind the extraordinary stories of demon lovers and efficacious maleficia lie very ordinary concerns about the inscrutable yet industrious interiority of women, especially wives.

Keywords: witchcraft, wife, woman’s will, ill wishing, marriage, contract, Anne Bodenham, Alice Samuel, Devil is an Ass, Late Lancashire Witches

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