Witches` Sabbath Analysis

Witches’Sabbath Analysis

Oneof the most reckoned works of Francisco Goya is the Witches’Sabbath, also known as The Great He-Goat (Carr-Gomm 130). The imageshows a devil in the form of a he goat surrounded by young and oldwitches in a barren landscape. The devil, or rather the he goat, hasbig horns and is crowned with leaves. One of the witches is holdingan emaciated child in her arms. In the image, the devil acts as apriest in initiation ceremony of the child. However, there is alsoanother possibility that the devil fed on children. This school ofthought could be true because there are two visible skeletons in theimage. The goat extends its left hoof, as opposed to right, towardsthe child. This gesture is reversed in a normal setting. The peoplesurrounding the goat seem frightened and docile. Of essence, theimage represents the true picture of the political dilemma facingpeople at the time. This image is a picture of what was happening inthe romanticism period and Spanish acquisition.

Witches’Sabbath uses witchcraft with the intent of mocking the vices of thesociety. Goya adapted witchcraft to emphasize on the distortedcharacters placed in a frightening setting. Using witchcraft isrooted to the stereotypes where the female body is seen as a deviantviolation of the expectations. However, Goya reveled this using histheatric skills to create some humor.

Goya’sother main intent of the image was to criticize the superstitions ofwitchcraft as just lies that were promoted by some corruptinstitutions such as church. Whereas he wanted to expose thehypocrisy of these institutions, he also wanted to mock the peoplewho believed in them. The women who surrounded the devil representthe people who have agreed to be misled by some beliefs andsuperstitions. That was the same thing happening in the real word.People were led by corrupt leaders, but because of fear, theycontinued to bow down for them. These leaders took advantages oftheir fears and turned them into slaves of both the mind and body.The he goat moving his left hoof, and not the left, is an indicatorthat the leaders were corrupt and misled people. As long as theycontinued to belief in them, they will always live in fear and willbow to their corrupt leaders. Superstitions and beliefs were alsodragging people into the world of fear. These were some of the thingsthat Goya tried to tell people through his painting.

Thereis no doubt that the political upheaval in Spain during the 1800scontributed to the painting of the Witches’ Sabbath. Violence, war,and brutality against Spanish people left Goya with an inspirationfor his painting. It is apparent that he anguished by the state ofpolitics and the citizens equally. As such, he decided to come upwith an image that will ridicule both the citizens and the leadersequally. The citizens were more than willing to bow down in fear tothe devil in the name of leaders. As long as this continued, peoplewere bound to leave in fear and raise their weak children in the samestate. Their beliefs and superstitions were also a sign that peoplewere ready to continue worshipping the devil without knowing. Goya’spainting was and is still an exemplary painting that draws muchattention from the public.


Carr-Gomm,Sarah. FranciscoGoya.New York: Parkstone International, 2011. Print.