I need help with developing a thesis for my 10- to 15-page research paper on the topic of "Witchcraft in Literature." The three works I will be covering are Euripides' Medea William Shakespeare's...

I need help with developing a thesis for my 10- to 15-page research paper on the topic of "Witchcraft in Literature." The three works I will be covering are Euripides' Medea William Shakespeare's Macbeth, and Arthur Miller's The Crucible. Anything helps!

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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One possible way to deal with constructing a thesis is to think about how attitudes towards women and witchcraft have changed over time. Your selection of texts covers almost the entire history of western drama, and these three texts make very different assumptions about the nature of witchcraft. As it stands, the title of your paper is quite broad, making it somewhat difficult to write. Narrowing your focus will make it easier to develop your thesis.

One feature all of these plays have in common is that they are historical dramas. In other words, none of the three plays is actually set in the period in which it was written. Euripides' Medea is not set in classical Athens, but in a remote heroic age in the distant past. Shakespeare's Macbeth is not set in Elizabethan England but in medieval Scotland. Arthur Miller's play is not set in the twentieth century, but in the late seventeenth century. In both Macbeth and Medea witchcraft is shown as something that was actually practiced, but only in the distant past. In The Crucible there are no actual witches, but people in the distant past were shown to believe in them. Thus you could develop a thesis along the lines:

"Both the practice of witchcraft and the belief in it are shown in drama as existing in a past distant from the playwrights' actual lifetimes, but witchcraft is still important to the playwrights for the ways it helps us understand the roles of women and of belief in the supernatural in society."

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