Elizabeth Wilson

Alibi- Elizabeth Wilson is the only person in one of these narratives to proclaim her innocence and have a plausible alibi. When accused of murdering her twins, Wilson “persisted in denying the fact; her behavior was such, in general, as gave reason to conclude she was innocent of the murder of which she was charged, or was an insensible, hardened creature, and did not expect to die for this crime.” The narrative is intended more as a tear-jerker than a cautionary tale. The state is in the wrong here. Foucault said that public executions began to work against the church and state because they began to engender sympathy for the murdered or bloodlust. Here, we can see how a public execution could backfire and reflect poorly on the state rather than the sinner.

Happy-  Wilson supposedly says that the dungeon is “the happiest place she ever was in her life.”  This seems strange and unlikely because she is in jail falsely accused of murdering her children.   This sounds like the religious propaganda found mostly in earlier narratives.

Marriage-  The sacrament of marriage is important in these texts.  A big deal is made of whether children are legitimate or illegitimate.  Wilson, like Charlotte Temple, is seduced by the promise of marriage.   The involvement of the church is important.  This narrative seems to be warning women (as C.T. did) that a promise of marriage was not the same thing as marriage.  Men are fallible; the church is not.

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