i'm just a literary tease, my reputation's on its knees.

Shakespeare the Jew

February 22, 2005

I just read David Beauregard's "New Light on Shakespeare's Catholicism: Prospero's Epilogue in The Tempest." This article should serve to illustrate the importance of word choice in writing: Just a few lines from a Shakespearan play are subject to being the center of a debate over whether or not Shakespeare was a Catholic.

Beauregard writes, "What I shall argue is that The Tempest, most pointedly in Prospero's epilogue, contains a peculiar series of references to sin, grace, and pardon that are the expressions of a sensibility rooted in Roman Catholic doctrine."

The author then proceeds to analyze the play The Tempest keeping in mind the ideas of Catholic doctrine in order to reach his conclusion that Shakespeare was Catholic.

He offers one primary piece of textual evidence, "And that is the final couplet of Prospero's epilogue in The Tempest: 'As you from crimes would pardoned be, / Let your indulgence set me free'."

Although the idea seems a bit of a stretch to me, that is the joy of literature, is it not?

Mr. B himself says, "Understandably, Shakespeare's references to Catholic doctrines are nonexplicit, a discreet practice, or perhaps an inadvertent lapse" leading me to wonder if perhaps any Catholic tendencies displayed in Shakespeare's works are unconscious acts. Or maybe Evan is right when he suggests, "I feel this epilogue is an appeal to the whole audience, but more specifically--and subtly--the Catholic audience."

Moira at 01:13 PM :: Comments (4) :: ::

Well, as Beauregard notes, there is plenty of historical evidence that argues for Shakespeare's Catholic identity.

His article reads The Tempest in light of the already-published biographical information. It's not necessary to agree with his conclusion in order to appreciate the theological implications of the play.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 22, 2005 02:38 PM

Oh I think it's interesting just in terms of how hotly contested Shakespeare's personal background becomes. I think it's a neat article - I just can't help but to wonder what people will analyze and find in my writing after I'm gone (assuming, of course, that anyone bothers). ;c)

Posted by: moira at February 22, 2005 02:45 PM

And assuming, of course that you go...

I'm not sure what that means, but I felt that it had to be said.

Posted by: Dennis G. Jerz at February 23, 2005 03:30 PM

LOL! well... I'm sure I'll be going *somewhere* eventually... but thanks? i think? ;c)

Posted by: moira at February 23, 2005 04:29 PM
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