'Mong'st the furies finde just recompence': Suicide and the supernatural in William Sampson's The Vow Breaker (1636)
Martin, F. (2015). ‘Mong’st the furies finde just recompence’: Suicide and the supernatural in William Sampson’s The Vow Breaker (1636). In M. Harmes & V. Bladen (Eds.), Supernatural and Secular Power in Early Modern England (pp. 117–139). Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate.
Permanent Research Commons link: http://hdl.handle.net/10289/9954
The prevailing view on suicide in early modern England was that it was absolutely 'contrary to the Lawes and ordinances of God: 1 and contemporary theologians including John Sym, William Willymat, Robert Hill and Richard Greenham expounded in sermons and treatises on the prohibitions against self-murder and the dire consequences attendant upon the soul of the deceased.2 To take one's own life indirectly challenged the authority of the Church, and suicide, in its violation of community values, also awakened fears of the supernatural and of what the condemned soul might be capable. On the popular stage, of course, dramatizations of suicide could provide shocking but arresting scenes of conflict, both on the personal level and within the affected community.
© 2015 Fiona Martin.