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Home :: Archive :: 2002 :: March ::
13.0818 Re: Shakespeare and Catholicism
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 13.0818  Monday, 18 March 2002

[1]     From:   Brandon Toropov <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Mar 2002 11:34:26 -0800 (PST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07393 Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious
views?

[2]     From:   Takashi Kozuka <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Mar 2002 22:18:17 +0000 (GMT)
        Subj:   Re: Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious views?

[3]     From:   Diana Price <
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        Date:   Friday, 15 Mar 2002 22:24:37 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0801 Re: Shakespeare and Catholicism

[4]     From:   Jack Heller <
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        Date:   Saturday, 16 Mar 2002 07:01:34 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.0811 Re: Shakespeare and Catholicism

[5]     From:   Sam Small <
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        Date:   Saturday, 16 Mar 2002 20:43:57 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 13.07393 Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious
views?


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Brandon Toropov <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Mar 2002 11:34:26 -0800 (PST)
Subject: 13.07393 Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious
Comment:        Re: SHK 13.07393 Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious
views?

I thought Bill Arnold's post to start this thread was absolutely
fascinating. Bill, I really wanted to thank you for sharing what you
did. I've been thinking about your note ever since I read it.

Without getting bogged down in the (endlessly examined) question of
whether there is or ever can be "proof" of Shakespeare's private
religious inclinations, I wanted to address a point that came up about
LEAR.

If the point is that man can never expect to understand God's
inscrutable intentions, and that WS should not be described as setting
forth in this play either a pessimistic or optimistic position on the
divine role ... how do we square this with Lear's final entrance?

*****

EDMUND: He hath commission from thy wife and me/To hang Cordelia in the
prison, and/To lay the blame upon her own despair,/That she fordid
herself.

ALBANY: The gods defend her!

(Enter LEAR with Cordelia in his arms.)

****

That collocation seems to me consistent with a pessimistic authorial
view of the divine role (or lack thereof) in human affairs.

I know it's tricky, trying to conclude from any single stage moment what
WS "really meant," but this entrance is so carefully prepared, and so
central to the action of the play, that it's hard not to feel that
Shakespeare meant to say *something* important with it...

Thoughts?

Brandon

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Takashi Kozuka <
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Date:           Friday, 15 Mar 2002 22:18:17 +0000 (GMT)
Subject:        Re: Shakespeare and Catholicism, his religious views?

I would like to point out a couple of issues regarding Bill Arnold's
summary of some biographical studies in the past.

He states that "Shakespeare's mother, Mary Arden, came from one of the
most prominent and tenacious Catholic families in Warwickshire". I
assume that Bill is referring to the Ardens of Park Hall. Unfortunately,
the connection between Robert Arden (Mary's father) and the Ardens of
Park Hall has not been established, although in the past some amateur
biographers assumed that Robert and Mary were descended from them.

As to the "authenticity" of John Shakespeare's "spiritual testament", in
1923 Thurston only proved that it was a copy of the genuine testament.
Its connection with John (which is another matter) has not been proven.
The opinions have been divided among biographers; for example, Peter
Milward accepts Thurston's view presented in 1991 and Michael Wood (the
historian, not the literary critic at Princeton University) also accepts
its connection with John, whereas S. Schoenbaum and Katherine
Duncan-Jones are clearly skeptical about it.

Bill also insists on "a possibility that John's financial difficulties
were caused by his recusancy, for many Catholic gentlemen of that age
often avoided fines by 'conveying' their property to friends and
relatives". Bill seems to be referring to the evidence that in November
1578 John borrowed 

 

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