VINEGAR TOM: A PLAY ABOUT WITCHES WITH NO WITCHES IN IT
Although it focuses on the 17th century witch hunt, the play Vinegar Tom actually dramatises historical degradation of women and their ultimate demonization in the form of witches. Challenging the official version of the story of ‘witches’, Caryl Churchill reveals the truth about them as “old, poor, single, or sexually unconventional” women (Churchill, 1985). Following her lead, our intention was to reveal and elaborate on how female sexuality, transgressive imagination and healing skills became a threat to the Church and its dogma, and how this triple threat actually represents a set of three most common accusations against the witches. Furthermore, in the style of new historicist literary approach, we will try to relate this horrendous attack on women with the rise of capitalism and Protestantism, two repressive ideologies that not only legitimized this misogynist campaign but planned it and organized it on the state level. What makes this play significant even today is its contemporariness which is underlined, among other things, by the direct address to audience and the use of modern dresses on stage. Thus, our concluding point would be that every historical period has its own “witches” – be it entire races, groups or individual dissidents
witches, women, witch hunts, patriarchy, sexuality, victims.