The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.1387 Friday 6 August 1999.
Date: Thursday, 5 Aug 1999 11:13:41 -0500
Subject: 10.1374 Re: Hoghton Tower Controversy
Comment: Re: SHK 10.1374 Re: Hoghton Tower Controversy
David N. Beauregad writes:
>In short, Shakespeare's plays employ the notions of intercessory prayer,
>merit, indulgences, the value of monastic life, pilgrimage, virtually
>all the doctrinal realities reviled by Reformed theologians. In the face
>of all this, can we seriously continue to claim that he was a Protestant
>of any stripe? I don't think so. Valuable as it is, Schoenbaum's
>biography is "unconvincing" on the religious question because he rules
>out the subject as "tendentious" (114).
Having checked the quotation in Schoenbaum on p. 114, I find David
Beauregard's statement that "Schoebaum rules out the subject of religion
as 'tendentious'" overstated. Schoenbaum seems to me to be taking a
hard look at a case for Shakespeare's Catholicism built on
circumstantial evidence for the Lancastrian connection and finding it
unconvincing-and other critics-even on this list-seem to feel the same
way. I like his book because he does present the evidence itself.
However, I am glad for the citations for the articles mentioned and will
order them today. I am very much interested in Shakespeare's
biography-I have Park Honan's book (which I have not read) and
Honingmann's as well.
No to be tendentious myself, I was raised Protestant and have no problem
with the numerous Catholic references in the plays; however, I think
there is a definite Protestant cast to Shakespeare's plays-Hamlet's
Wittenburg connection; the rigorous self examination of the characters
either by themselves in asides or by plot construction; the hard look at
scientific discoveries and evidence that must be "seen;" and the almost
prosaic love of common people and ordinary people's thoughts and
feelings. I am not saying that this is exclusively a Protestant view,
but Catholicism, in its rigorous analytical approach, often denies the
feeling side of Shakespeare that draws everyone to his plays. And what
about the persistent love interest in all those plays full of friars and
pilgrimages? Moreover, I don't know why one has to be a monk or a nun
to be religious or even celibate.
A newcomer to these controversies, I think the best evidence is in his
plays and constructing a reading that will hold true to his work that
will convince critics of any persuasion or faith.
I have tried to hold true to this aim in my Tempest essay, as yet
unpublished (although out for consideration at Providence: Studies in
Western Civilization) and available on my website:
I have not yet got my essay converted to a downloadable file, but I hope
to have it that way this afternoon.
With warm regards and thanks to everyone,