cover image Witches and Jesuits

Witches and Jesuits

Garry Wills. Oxford University Press, USA, $25 (240pp) ISBN 978-0-19-508879-3

Pulitzer Prize-winning Wills (Lincoln at Gettysburg) here turns his attention to a new interpretation of MacBeth. Originally performed in 1606, a year after the failed Gunpowder Plot to blow up the English monarchy and Parliament, the play was written, Wills argues, in the context of this event and in Shakespeare's belief that the Jesuits had backed the treason. Supportng his theory with careful research, Wills compares MacBeth with other ``gunpowder'' dramas and provides an informed analysis of the play's characters. Positing that the witches have been marginalized by modern directors in the play's second half, Wills claims that Shakespeare intended them to serve as a demonic presence throughout. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Oct.)