Shakespeare and Early Modern Religion
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Written by an international team of literary scholars and historians, this collaborative volume illuminates the diversity of early modern religious beliefs and practices in Shakespeare's England, and considers how religious culture is imaginatively reanimated in Shakespeare's plays. Fourteen new essays explore the creative ways Shakespeare engaged with the multifaceted dimensions of Protestantism, Catholicism, non-Christian religions including Judaism and Islam, and secular perspectives, considering plays such as Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King John, King Lear, Macbeth, Measure for Measure, A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Winter's Tale. The collection is of great interest to readers of Shakespeare studies, early modern literature, religious studies, and early modern history.
the religious question in Henry V is as skillful as it is tactful and generous. Henry is unquestionably a Catholic ruler, not simply in that he came to the throne in 1413 well before the English Reformation, but also in his professions of faith at moments of crisis. On the night before the great Battle of Agincourt, 1415, having talked incognito with some of his captains and his soldiers, Henry prays. He prays that “the fault” that his father made “in compassing the crown” may not be held against
Dutton, Alison Findlay, and Richard Wilson (eds.), Theatre and Religion: Lancastrian Shakespeare (Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 58–70; Michael Wood, In Search of Shakespeare (London: BBC Books, 2003), pp. 73–80. Henry Ellis (ed.), Holinshed’s Chronicles, 6 vols. (London, 1807–8), vol. iv, p. 459. See Ute Lotz-Heuman, “Confessionalization,” in David M. Whitford (ed.), Reformation and Early Modern Europe: A Guide to Research (Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press, 2008), pp.
(p. 235). The indecisive evidence for “John Shakespeare and Catholicism” is carefully reviewed in the biographical entry for Shakespeare by Peter Holland in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (www.oxforddnb.com); moreover, as Holland notes, “there is . . . no reason to assume that the adult William shared his father’s religious views,” even if they were Catholic. 6 David Loewenstein and Michael Witmore Jonson’s with his conversion to Roman Catholicism and his re-conversion to the
the early modern traveler.39 37 38 39 Contemporary instances of the term “panic” in the OED conﬁrm its strong association with Pan at this date (see adj. 1); the ﬁrst use of the word in a looser sense (adj. 2.a) is dated 1603. On the overlap between Will-o’the-Wisps and legends of Puck, see Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 2005), p. 492; cf. pp. 318, 502. See also Mary Ellen Lamb, “Taken by the Fairies: Fairy
skeptical attitude towards providence in relation to human aﬀairs are partly anticipated in William R. Elton, “King Lear” and the Gods (San Marino, CA: Huntington Library, 1966), esp. pp. 9–62, where Elton challenges “the relevance” of the play to “the popular modern theory of Christian optimism” (p. 8); however, I emphasize more strongly Shakespeare’s daring capacity to imagine, in dramatic tragedy, an agnostic world in the midst of a deeply providential culture in early modern England and thus