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Religions 2018, 9(7), 214; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9070214

Paganism and Reform in Shakespeare’s Plays

Department of English, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5331, USA
Received: 21 May 2018 / Accepted: 18 June 2018 / Published: 11 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
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Abstract

Shakespeare’s plays mix references to pagan and Christian symbols and ideas in ways which are only superficially contradictory. While the sometimes uneasy juxtaposition of classical and Christian religious thought is characteristic of Renaissance literature, there is, in Shakespeare’s use of paganism, a method to the madness. Shakespeare’s comedies and romances associate the worship of Diana with the Catholic ideal of religious celibacy, and ultimately repudiate the Diana figure or transform her into a “Christian” spokeswoman who encourages and facilitates marriage and child-bearing. In a late romance, The Winter’s Tale, the turn from Diana to self-sacrificial marriage is also made symbolic of a key character’s turn from Catholic-like works of ritual penitence to inward transformation by faith. Thus, Shakespeare’s plays represent pagan ritual in a way which supports the Calvinist religious tendencies of early-modern England. View Full-Text
Keywords: Diana; Calvinism; paganism; romances; The Winter’s Tale; Catholic; marriage Diana; Calvinism; paganism; romances; The Winter’s Tale; Catholic; marriage
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Tiffany, G. Paganism and Reform in Shakespeare’s Plays. Religions 2018, 9, 214.

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