The Witch of Blackbird Pond
by Elizabeth George Speare
Analysis: What's Up With the Title?
The funny thing about the title of The Witch of Blackbird Pond is that the novel doesn’t actually contain any witches.
That’s right, none. There are no black hats or warty noses or old women putting curses on kids with the stink eye. Sorry to disappoint you, potential readers. There’s not even one broomstick.
So, why the title The Witch of Blackbird Pond? Why not title the book The Quaker of Wethersfield Connecticut?
Well, because The Quaker of Wethersfield Connecticut doesn’t quite have the same ring to it, now does it? Also, of course, the book isn’t so much about who Hannah Tupper actually is (a Quaker living in Connecticut), but what the Puritan society fears that she might be (a right nasty witch).
We see the trouble when Kit first encounters Hannah:
Kit looked back at the gray figure bent over a kettle, stirring something with a long stick. Her spine prickled. It might be only soap, of course. She’d stirred a kettle herself just yesterday; goodness knows her arms still ached from it. But that lonely figure in the ragged flapping shawl – it was easy enough to imagine any sort of mysterious brew in that pot! She quickened her step to catch up with Judith. (8.18)
Here we can see that at a distance anyone, with a little bit of imagination, can look like a witch. Because the Puritans do not attempt to understand Hannah, she becomes an outcast and a scapegoat, even though she is completely innocent of any charges of witchcraft. We see the violent consequences of the town’s uniformed prejudices when the angry mob burns Hannah’s house and puts Kit herself on trial.