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Home :: Archive :: 1998 :: December ::
Ghost from Purgatory
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 9.1269  Wednesday, 9 December 1998.

From:           Roy Flannagan <
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Date:           Tuesday, 08 Dec 1998 09:07:40 -0500
Subject:        New thread from an old wet blanket: the Ghost from
                Purgatory in Hamlet

In reading Honan's biography of Shakespeare, I have become more aware of
how serious it was to be a Catholic in Stratford when Shakespeare was a
child there.  Friends of friends of the Shakespeare family were hanged
for it.  Yet Honan and most of us teaching Shakespeare superficially
acknowledge in class that the Ghost is, yes, from purgatory and no,
purgatory was not a conception endorsed by the Church of England in,
say, 1603.

Perhaps this has been discussed at length on the list before, but I must
have missed it.  How could Shakespeare allow a clearly Roman Catholic
ghost into a play performed in London in the early 1600s and not be
called a heretic or not given proper C of E burial?  Or was the question
just not that important by 1603?  I know: Shakespeare was said to have
died a Roman Catholic; but he wasn't buried as one.  Has anyone settled
this in print?

Roy Flannagan (with an RC name but brought up Episcopalian)
 

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