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Religions 2019, 10(1), 38; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010038

“For One’s Offence Why Should so Many Fall”?: Hecuba and the Problems of Conscience in The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet

English Department, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, MI 49242, USA
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 3 January 2019 / Accepted: 6 January 2019 / Published: 9 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religions in Shakespeare's Writings)
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Abstract

In The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet, Shakespeare focuses upon the effects of sin and the problems of conscience that it causes. However, he does so by shifting focus from the sinner to the one harmed by the sin. Through this shift in focus, Shakespeare explores sin as something that does not only harm the sinner and his immediate victim, but as something that strikes against the common good. Sin harms humanity in its corporate nature, and the consequences of sin—sorrows, guilt, conflicted conscience, and the desire for absolution—spread from the sinner to his victims and the larger community. At pivotal moments in both works, Shakespeare turns to artistic representations of the figure of Hecuba, sorrowing in the midst of the destruction of Troy, as a means for navigating the strained point of intersection between private conscience and the common good. View Full-Text
Keywords: Shakespeare; Hamlet; The Rape of Lucrece; Hecuba; conscience; sin Shakespeare; Hamlet; The Rape of Lucrece; Hecuba; conscience; sin
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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Whalen, B.J. “For One’s Offence Why Should so Many Fall”?: Hecuba and the Problems of Conscience in The Rape of Lucrece and Hamlet. Religions 2019, 10, 38.

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