Katherine Howe’s novel called The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane is an adventure story of a young graduate student Connie Goodwin. The main protagonist of the novel is on a quest trying to solve a mysterious riddle of the past. Connie is struggling to locate and put together the clues and pieces of evidence she finds in her grandmother’s old and abandoned house. Connie is trying to re-create the life story and experiences of Deliverance Dane, an unknown before a member of the Salem witch hunt that happened in 1692.
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The story revolves around the mysterious tools and appliances of Deliverance Dane Connie uses to re-build the history and learn some new aspects of the witch trials and the actual knowledgeable women who were victimized during that time. Goodwin’s findings are so interesting and powerful that they immediately attract other researchers. This attraction that borders with an obsession is based on the meaning humans attach to knowledge and information.
Knowledgeable women like Deliverance Dane were called that way due to their special wisdom and access to secrets unknown to average individuals. Howe demonstrates the power of such knowledge in the magical connection with nature and the supernatural. At her exam, Connie mentions that “The Salem witch trials have been explained in numerous ways” (Howe 19). This means that the trials have only been studied from the point of view of a modern skeptic.
Connie also states that none of the secondary sources she reviewed supported the idea that witchcraft even existed. Later, as Connie finds evidence of the work of Deliverance Dane, Chilton suggests that she looks for new source bases, explores perspectives no one has taken into consideration before. These sources and the knowledge they contain are viewed as the most valuable.
Similar patterns can be found in Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Humans and their traditional minds and ways of thinking are mocked by the supernatural creatures. Oberon, the king of elves, even says, “Lord, what fools these mortals be!” (III, 2). This statement assumes that the perception of humans is biased and limited and that often the true knowledge is unavailable to them due to their subjective and fixed beliefs. This is why fairies and elves, who have the access to supernatural wisdom (just like witches and knowledgeable women of 1690s), are by nature more powerful and far-sighted.
The superior wisdom of nature that has magical character is also present in A Passage to India by E. M. Forster. Besides, the author clearly demonstrates the limited perception of people when the two clashing cultures – the colonizers and the colonized – tend to see only one side of things, their misunderstandings are based on a complete lack of deeper insight into each other’s points of view. Moreover, the nature in India seems to have its own idea about the presence of the English people there. A number of mysterious accidents happen such as Adela getting overwhelmed in the caves, an unknown object hitting a car with Ronny and Adela inside, and the nature, buildings, and the sky of India voiced against the friendship between the colonizers and the colonized.
To conclude, all of the three discussed texts view knowledge as a powerful tool allowing one to open their mind and become superior to others in particular fields and aspects. Knowledge surrounds the protagonists of these texts, it is in the air like magic, but it is not available to everyone.
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