The Image of a Witch in J. Updike’s Novel “The Witches of Eastwick”: Traditions and Innovation

Download paper
Natalya V. Kuznetsova

PhD degree-seeking student at the Chair of Foreign Journalism and Literature, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Section: History of Journalism

The author gives a brief comparative analysis of the image of a witch and witchcraft in European Romantic and American literature, then links J. Updike’s novel “The Witches of Eastwick” with the traditions of his predecessors and finally emphasizes the novelty of the writer’s portrayal of witchcraft in the aforementioned book. The witch is traditionally portrayed as a woman associated with nature and possessing new knowledge. Updike uses this tradition in his novel with some modifications: he empowers his witches of Eastwick with a supernatural force and allows them to establish a new world order in the new American society. The witches, like tricksters, destroy the former order and transform the society into a grotesque matriarchy. As a result, the age-old disruption of the natural balance between men and women is far from being removed; moreover, the situation only deteriorates.

Keywords: American realism, Updike, “The Witches of Eastwick”, Salem witch trials, witch, mythologem

Amfiteatrov A. V. (2010) D’yavol v bytu, legende i v literature Srednikh vekov [The Devil in Everyday Life, Legend and Literature of the Middle Ages]. (In Russian). Available at:

Bailey P. J. (2006) Rabbit (Un)redeemed: The Drama of Belief in John Updike’s Fiction. Fairleigh Dickenson University Press.

Detweiler R. (1984) John Updike. Boston.

Demos J. P. (1982) Entertaining Satan. New York, Oxford.

Greiner D. J. (1984) John Updike’s Novels. Ohio University Press.

Itkina N. L. (2010) Khudozhestvennyy mir Dzhona Apdayka [The Fictional World of John Updike]. Mоscоw. (In Russian)

MacNaughton W. R. (1982) Critical Essays on John Updike. G.K. Hall.

Maksimov B. A. (2015) Romanticheskie koordinaty lyubvi: Lyutsinda F. Shlegelya [Romantic Coordinates of Love: F. Schlegel’s “Lucinde”]. Vestn. Mosk. un-ta. Ser. 10: Zhurnalistika 5–6. (In Russian)

Markish S. (1966) Olimp, Pensil’vaniya, 1947 [Olympus, Pennsylvania, 1947]. In J. Updike Kentavr [The Centaur]. Moscow. Pp. 1–12. (In Russian)

Mazzeno L. W. (2013) Becoming John Updike. Camden House.

McTavish J. (2016) Myth and Gospel in the Fiction of John Updike. Cascade Books.

Schiff J. A. (1992) Updike’s Version: Rewriting the Scarlet Letter. University of Missouri.