Ideological Approaches to Nature and Female Body in Witch Poems
Witch poems that have female figures associated with wilderness and the occult display different ideologies about nature and female body. Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath’s Tale (c. 1476) discusses the medieval idea favouring youth, health and fertility, and shows the degradation of an old witch due to her aged and infertile body. Revealing eighteenth-century discourse that values nurture and elegance, Robert Burns’s Tam o’Shanter (1791) portrays witches that are stigmatised as creatures associated with lust, ugliness and savagery. On the other hand, John Keats’s Lamia (1820), which advocates nineteenth century Romantic ideology claiming the superiority of the wild and the untouched, denounces a serpent-woman who despises her natural, half-animal body. Having been influenced by feminist movements in the twentieth century which protest the domination of women and nature, Ann Sexton dignifies witches in Her Kind (1960) due to their closeness to nature and their challenge against patriarchal hegemony. The aim of the present study is to understand the role of witch poems in imposing the dominant ideologies about nature and female body through examining the mentioned poems.
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