John Ford’s fascination with the psychology of love in its many-faceted applications to social life is evident in his earliest produced play, The Witch of Edmonton, which he wrote in collaboration with Thomas Dekker and William Rowley. Here also is evident Ford’s propensity to the sensational as well as the association of love with death, which was to reappear in many of his subsequent plays.
The Witch of Edmonton
In the first scene, Frank Thorney has just been married to Sir Arthur Clarington’s serving maid, Winnifride, who is with child. The marriage is to be kept in the dark until Frank can secure his inheritance. Sir Arthur abets this deception by writing a letter certifying that no marriage has taken place, even though he is frustrated in his hopes of maintaining a relationship with Winnifride, who takes her marriage and her new status most seriously. The reason for the secrecy becomes gradually yet shockingly apparent as the audience realizes that Frank, who seems to have a strong and genuine love for his bride, nevertheless intends to secure his inheritance through a bigamous marriage with his longtime neighbor Susan Carter. There is irony throughout the scene of his second courtship, but particularly in Susan’s outburst of hymeneal joy at having her heart settled with her one true love and winning the right to dismiss her unwanted suitors. Frank, who seems to like Susan well enough, blames his situation on...
(The entire section is 9989 words.)
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