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Jane Branley was a witch

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Cllrs. Jane Branley and Geraldine White, South Tyneside

Was the South Tyneside Independent Leader Hecate?

When she was a girl enjoying her education at South Shields Grammar School for Girls, the now Leader of the South Tyneside Independent Alliance group of councillors, Jane Branley, liked nothing better than to steep herself in drama – not much has changed since then.

One of her best remembered roles was as one of the three witches in Shakespeare’s “Macbeth”, who although unnamed by the Bard became popularly known in some circles as Darkness, Chaos, and Conflict, and some say their leader was called Hecate. I wonder which witch was which, and which witch was Jane?

Shakespeare gave them roles as agents and their presence indicated impending doom!

During Shakespeare’s day, witches were seen as worse than rebels, “the most notorious traytor and rebell that can be.” They were not only political traitors, but spiritual traitors as well. They defy logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world.

The witches’ lines in the first act: “Fair is foul, and foul is fair: Hover through the fog and filthy air” are often said to set the tone for the remainder of the play by establishing a sense of confusion. Indeed, the play is filled with situations in which evil is depicted as good, while good is rendered evil. The line “Double, double toil and trouble,”  communicates the witches’ intent clearly: they seek to only trouble for the mortals around them. Shakespeare’s principal source for the Three Witches is found in the account of King Duncan in Raphael Holinshed’s history of the British Isles, The Chronicles of England, Scotland, and Ireland (1587). In Holinshed, Macbeth and his companion Banquo encounter “three women in strange and wild apparell, resembling creatures of elder world” who hail the men with glowing prophecies and then vanish “immediately out of their sight.” Holinshed notes that “the words of the Weird Sisters…greatly encouraged” Macbeth to “usurp the kingdom by force.”

Sounds very familiar, almost like the regular acts that we see in the council chamber of South Shields Town Hall, last Thursday Cllr. Branley brought impending doom to the full meeting of the council as she defied logic, not being subject to the rules of the real world, and the Mayor was forced to abandon it. How much the Westoe councillor might have enjoyed the occasion (and the ensuing publicity) if the police had arrived to escort her from the premises.

Once a drama Queen, always a drama Queen perhaps?

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Written by curly

June 29, 2009 at 9:53 am

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  1. […] Jane Branley was a witch […]


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