The journal (print)
is indexed in:

Russian Science Citation Index

Ulrichs Periodicals Directory

CrossRef

iteFactor

The online version
is indexed in:

Russian Science Citation Index

Orphus system
Main page / "Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" Journal / Contents / 2015 / 1

Zotov S. O. Folklore or Literature: Images of Fairies and Witches in Shakespeares Plays

(Russian State University for the Humanities)

Abstract ♦ Since the release of M. Murrays controversial work The God of the Witches (1931), a number of specialists have been drawing parallels between traditional folk images of witches and fairies. The plays of William Shakespeare had been also involved in this analytical process concerning the witches in Macbeth and fairies in A Midsummer Nights Dream. This article presents an attempt to investigate the sources which Shakespeare might have used to obtain information about witches, fairies and elves, and to bring up a comparative study of these images in his plays as well. I will also touch in detail upon the etymological roots of the words faierie, faie and elf and their first usage.

This work refutes common misconceptions relating to the role of Shakespeare in shaping miniature fairies as good-natured creatures. Having compared faeries in A Midsummer Nights Dream with folklore images and examined their similarities and differences, I suggest that the Shakespearean fairies preserve ancient chthonic traits of their folk ancestors, which is manifested through motives of stealing children, malevolence and close relationship with the images of nature.

The second part of this study reveals a connection between images of witches in Shakespeares works and the phenomenon of fairie-demonization within a period of English Reformation. Goddess Hecate from Macbeth is regarded here as a unifying image, which merges together Shakespearean images of fairies and witches.

In the last paragraph I come up with a more general conclusion. The concept of fairies involves many kinds of magical creatures, including witches. The affinity between images of witches and fairies in Shakespeares plays is due to their close typological similarity within English folklore and to the Reformation tradition of demonizing fairies. Multi-dimensionality and even ambivalence of faerie images show that Shakespeare was deeply aware of Warwickshire folklore.

Keywords: William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Nights Dream, Macbeth, faeries, fairies, elves, images of witches, folklore.  


Zotov Sergey Olegovich, Masters student, Russian School of Anthropology, Russian State University for the Humanities; Volunteer researcher, Laboratory of Social, Historical and Cultural Anthropology (LSHCA); Member, Association for the Study of Esotericism and Mysticism (ASEM). Postal address: Room 104, Bldg. 5, 6 Miusskaya St., Moscow, Russian Federation, 125047. Tel.: +7 (499) 250-68-38. E-mail: godlike90@rambler.ru. Research advisor: I. A. Protopopova, Candidate of Culturology.

Download

Citation: Zotov S. O. (2015) Fol'klor ili literatura: obrazy feiri i ved'm v p'esakh Shekspira [Folklore or Literature: Images of Fairies and Witches in Shakespeares Plays]. Znanie. Ponimanie. Umenie, no. 1, pp. 295-303. (In Russ.). DOI: 10.17805/zpu.2015.1.29

Submission date: 20.09.2014.

RUSSIAN VERSION


REFERENCES

Batiushkov, F. D. (1902) Son v Ivanovu noch' [A Midsummer Nights Dream]. In: Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Shekspira [The complete works of Shakespeare] : in 5 vols. St. Petersburg, Brockhaus and Efron Publ. Vol. 1. Pp. 488498. (Biblioteka velikikh pisatelei pod red. S. A. Vengerova [Library of great writers, ed. by S. A. Vengerov]). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2000) El'fiiskii slovar' [A Dictionary of Fairies]. Darksign [online] Available at: http://darksign.ru/SiteData2/UpdateJuly2010/ElvenDictionary.pdf [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2007a) El'fy v traditsii i literature. I.I. Ekskurs v istoriiu [Fairies in tradition and literature. I.I. Historic survey]. Stepan M. Pechkin [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/x/smp/xlat/Briggs_KM/FITAL/kmb_fital_1_01.html [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2007b) El'fy v traditsii i literature. I.V. Voinstvo Mertvykh [Fairies in tradition and literature. I.V. The Host of the dead]. Stepan M. Pechkin [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/x/smp/xlat/Briggs_KM/FITAL/kmb_fital_1_05.html [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2007c) El'fy v traditsii i literature. I.X. Mestnaia spetsifika [Fairies in tradition and literature. I.X. Regional differences]. Stepan M. Pechkin [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/x/smp/xlat/Briggs_KM/FITAL/kmb_fital_1_10.html [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2007d) El'fy v traditsii i literature. II.XI. El'fiiskaia nesamostoiatel'nost' [Fairies in tradition and literature. II.XI. The fairy dependence]. Stepan M. Pechkin [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/x/smp/xlat/Briggs_KM/FITAL/kmb_fital_2_11.html [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. (2014a) Pak [Puck]. El'fiiskii slovar' [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/wiki/kmb_adof/doku.php?id=puck [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014).

Briggs, K. (2014b) Robin Slavnyi Malyi [Robin Goodfellow]. El'fiiskii slovar' [online] Available at: http://pechkin.rinet.ru/wiki/kmb_adof/doku.php?id=robin_goodfellow [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014).

Tolkien, J. R. R. (1995) Moi mir poiavilsia vmeste so mnoi [This stuff began with me]. Esli, no. 1112, pp. 2022. (In Russ.).

Tolkien, J. R. R. O volshebnykh skazkakh (otryvok) [On Fairy-Stories (extract)]. Kabinet Professora v Arde-na-Kulichkakh [online] Available at: http://kulichki.com/tolkien/cabinet/lection/fairy.shtml [archived in WebCite] (accessed 13.09.2014). (In Russ.).

Shakespeare, W. (1902) Son v Ivanovu noch' [A midsummer nights dream] / transl. by N. M. Satin. In: Polnoe sobranie sochinenii Shekspira [The complete works of Shakespeare] : in 5 vols. St. Petersburg, Brockhaus and Efron Publ. Vol. 1. Pp. 499546. (Biblioteka velikikh pisatelei pod red. S. A. Vengerova [Library of great writers, ed. by S. A. Vengerov]). (In Russ.).

Shakespeare, W. (1936) Tragediia o Makbete [The tragedy of Macbeth] / transl. by A. D. Radlova. In: Shakespeare, W. Polnoe sobranie sochinenii [Complete works] : in 8 vols. / ed. by S. S. Dinamov and A. A. Smirnov. Moscow ; Leningrad, Academia Publ. Vol. 5. 646 p. Pp. 341450. (In Russ.).

Briggs, K. M. (1967) Fairies in tradition and literature. London, Routledge & Kegan Paul Ltd. x, 261 p.

Briggs, K. M. (1977) The anatomy of puck. New York, Arno Press. xi, 284 p.

Draco, M. (2013) Traditional witchcraft and the pagan revival: A magical anthropology. Winchester, UK, Moon Books. viii, 180 p.

Duffin, R. W. (2004) Shakespeares songs. New York, W.W. Norton. 528 p.

Murray, M. A. (1970) The god of the witches. London ; New York, Oxford University Press. 212 p.



to top


Moscow University for the Humanities


"Knowledge. Understanding. Skill" No. 4 2017
 The No. 4 2017 of the
Journal "Knowledge.
Understanding. Skill"
 is issued


What kind of higher education will be at the end of the XXI century?
 global and unified for the whole world
 local with the revival of traditions of national educational models
 something else
 there will be no necessity for it in general
The Editorial Board of the Informational Portal for the Humanities
"Knowledge. Understanding. Skill"

The Portal is registered by the Federal Service of Supervision over Observance of Legislation
in Mass Media Sphere and Protection of the Cultural Inheritance.
Registration certificate 77-25026 of the 14th of July, 2006.

   Rambler's Top100

Developed by: "Internet Factory"