Vinegar Tom – Plot and Subplot Essay
* The play starts with Alice and ‘Man’ having sex in a bush. Alice asks to travel to London with the man, but he refuses. Alice then displays interest in the fact that the Man saw a ‘Witch’ Burn.
The man pushes Alice to the ground and she compares him to the Devil as the man himself did at the start of the scene.The fact that the Man has no name makes us emphasise with Alice, rather then the man. The description of the “Witch” being burnt, also backs this up, but at the same time, gives us a idea of how women in the 17th century were treated, and how the main focus of this, was witchcraft.* The second scene starts with Jack and Margery, in their house, talking about Hiring a man to help with the fields. They then talk about Alice, and we learn about her lifestyle and her family. Jack and Margery, realising that Betty is walking towards them, start to talk about her instead.
As Betty is the daughter of the man who owns the estate where Jack and Margery work, they treat her with much more respect then they did with Alice, showing us that in the 17th century, wealth decided status as much as sex did.* Scene 3 starts with Alice walking into Joan’s after spending the night with ‘Man’. Joan is clearly worried about Alice, which could be because of Joan’s previous history with men. “You’ve told me often you’re glad he’s dead.”* This scene is followed by the song “Nobody Sings”. The songs are relevant thematically, but not part of the play. The songs are also preformed by separate Actors in modern clothing, so that the audience has the chance to relate their own lives to the events of the play.
* Scene 4 is set inside Jack and Margery’s farm, Joan asks Margery for yeast, but Margery refuses, because of this, Joan ‘curses’ Margery. Later, Joan leaves and Jack enters, and we see Jack treat Margery with little respect, which causes us to emphasize with her.* Scene 5 starts with Alice and Susan, talking about Alice and ‘Man’ and Susan’s pregnancy. Jack then enters and we are shown that Jack feels for Alice, but Alice rejects Jack and calls down Joan to speak with him. As soon as Joan enters, Jack talks down to her and insults her, showing us how little respect he has for her. Joan gives Jack his bowl but curses at him as he leaves.* Scene 6 is set in the Landowner’s house.
Betty is tied to a chair with a doctor about to bleed her arm. The Doctor uses the line “You will soon be well enough to be married”. This implies to us how women weren’t given any choice about their future.* Scene 7 is set in Jack and Margery’s barn. Their calves are sick and Jack and Margery seem to think it is because of Joan. They also think Joan cursing them is the reason for all their other downfalls in this scene, and they come to the conclusion that Joan is a witch.
Through out this scene, Jack draws the attention into himself and acts like even Margery’s pain, is more to do with himself. This helps us emphasize with Margery.* Scene Eight is set in Ellen’s cottage; she is finishing speaking to Susan and Alice. She has given Alice a potion to help her find the ‘Man’ and herbs to ‘boil up’ to help her sleep.
* Scene 9 is again set in Ellen’s cottage. Betty is talking to Ellen about how she is to be married. Betty clearly doesn’t want to be married.
Ellen tells Betty that the best she can do is help her sleep, as she will not help Betty hurt the man she is to marry.* Scene 10 is also set in Ellen’s cottage. Jack and Margery are talking to Ellen about how they think Joan is a witch. They are trying to get re-insurance from her so that they can accuse Joan of being a witch.
Ellen shows them a glass full of smoke, and Jack and Margery clam to see Joan in there.* Scene 11 is once again set inside Ellen’s cottage. Margery has left and jack is speaking to Ellen about how he believes that Alice bewitched him.
Ellen suggests that Jack should go and ask Alice to life the curse and gives him a potion to help.* Scene 12 is set outside Jack and Margery’s. Joan appears and starts to talk to Margery, but Margery makes it clear that she no longer wants to speak to her, as she believes that Joan is a witch. Margery cuts Joan so that she can’t be cursed by her anymore, and threatens to burn down her house if that doesn’t work.* Scene 13 is also set outside and Margery’s. Alice is talking to Susan about how she saw the ‘Man’ riding past on a horse, with another woman on the back. Later in this scene, Jack enters and calls Alice a witch and tells her to ‘Give it back’.
Eventually, Alice puts her hands between his thighs and tells Jack that “It’s back”. This causes Susan to call Alice a witch.* Scene 14 is set in a public square. Jack and Margery explain to Packer, a witch hunter, about how they suspect Joan of being a witch. Packer, and his assistant Goody, then humiliatingly tests Joan to see if she is a witch.
This shows us how women were abuse and degraded in the 17th century. Susan then speaks out about Alice, and in doing so, gets herself and Alice accused of being witches by Packer, which leads to them being arrested.* Scene 15 is, again, set in a public square. Packer and Goody pull up Susan’s skirt so they can test if she is a witch.
Goody then gives the audience information about Packer.* Scene 16 is set in Ellen’s cottage. Betty explains that she is scared to go there as she doesn’t want to be accused of being a witch.
Ellen is also scared that someone will accuse her of being a witch. This scene shows the audience of the fear put into the two women.* Scene 17 is set inside a prison.
Alice is tied up and Goody is watching her. Alice is more concerned about her son then her own life. When a spider is seen by Packer, He accuses it of being Alice’s ‘imp’.* Scene 18 is again set in the prison. Goody is looking for ‘The devil’s mark’ on Susan’s body. Joan then confesses to being a witch, and obviously has given up trying to escape her death.* Scene 19 is set in the public square.
Joan and Ellen are hung, While Margery prays.* Scene 20 is set in the public square again. Joan and Ellen are still hanging. Susan has been convinced that she is a witch herself, But Alice still denies it.
* Scene 21 is completely different to the rest of the play which creates contrast and makes this scene stand out. Sprenger and Kramer, 2 New characters, speak together about witches and how it is more common to be a witch if you are female.