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Scott, Baillie, and the Bewitching of Social Relations

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In this essay, I examine Joanna Baillie's Witchcraft as a sequel to Walter Scott's The Bride of Lammermoor. Situating the works in the context of Poor Law reform in Scotland and England, I argue that Baillie's play and Scott's novel both criticize social relations bewitched by selfish and greedy attitudes and that both call for renewed charity. Scott, however, is equally critical of elite and non‐elite characters who fail to constitute a mutually supportive community in idealized traditional ways; Baillie offers a more sympathetic portrayal of the plight of the poor, making their resentment of elite privilege more pitiable than menacing. The differences in their representations of the poor, I conclude, reflect Scott's relatively greater fear of social unrest and Baillie's relatively greater fear of oppression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: English at the University of South Florida

Publication date: 2005-07-01

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