“Pins figured prominently in the evidence of this group of witnesses. John Prideaux said she had pins buried in her breast, but that she did not bleed when they were pulled out. William Helme saw pins in the ends of Anne’s toes and so many in her breast that it was ‘as if it had been pinpillow’; he agreed that Anne did not bleed when these pins were removed.” (103)
As I mentioned in class several weeks ago when we discussed The Bewitching of Anne Gunter, the “bewitching” of Anne’s body perhaps was the most striking thing of the account. Indeed, the abandonment of modesty and the protection of family status and dignity on the part of Brian Gunter was incredibly shocking and may indicate his overall commitment to the ruse. It may also indicate the level of power a male figure had over the body of his female subordinate (it pains me to describe it in these terms), and how in one out of many ways Anne was seemingly a subaltern throughout most of her story.
For me, it also brings up the question of public humiliation and even the public spectacle of Anne’s bewitching. Without a doubt it seem that there is a performative quality to the bewitching and the participation of the individuals involved. That is not to say that we should divorce ourselves of the idea that the contemporaries understood a world inflected by witchcraft. It does seem like a suspicious construct, though, given the narrative of Anne’s bewitching and social motives behind it. Might we consider this, then, a social performance? (Full disclosure: I’m not even sure I know what that might mean).