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By David Scott Kastan

'A Will to think' is a revised model of Kastan's 2008 'Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures', offering a provocative account of the ways that faith animates Shakespeare's plays.


A Will to think is a revised model of Kastan's 2008 Oxford Wells Shakespeare Lectures, supplying a provocative account of the ways that faith animates Shakespeare's plays. Read more...

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There is no way to establish if the Spiritual Testament is authentic and, even if we could, there is no way to determine what the document represented for John Shakespeare. We should at the very least remind ourselves that John Shakespeare baptized his last seven children and buried two of them in the rites of the reformed Church, and that in his role as borough Chamberlain he was responsible “for defasyng ymages in ye chapell,”43 as well as “taking doune” its “rood loft” and erecting a communion table to satisfy the expectations of the reformed in Stratford or maybe only of the Protestant bishop of the diocese.

A little over two months after Joan’s baptism, however, Queen Mary was dead. Elizabeth succeeded to the English throne on 17 November, with the formal coronation on 15 January of 1559. With Elizabeth now queen, the liturgical reforms undone by Mary were officially restored, though the Protestantizing of worship in Stratford-upon-Avon generally seems to have been embraced less than enthusiastically, as indeed was the case at the first go-round. In 1537, Hugh Latimer, in a letter accepting Thomas Cromwell’s recommendation of Anthony Barker to serve as warden of the collegiate church, had referred to the small market town as “that blind end of my diocese,”16 and in 1559 the market town wasn’t much more zealous.

He was given ‘gall,’ and like Juliet ‘when he had tasted thereof, he would not drinke’ (Matt. ”87 What interests me in these examples is not (or at least not only) the implausibility of the particular reading but (also) what seems to me the category error that produces them. Shakespeare’s plays do not seem to me “almost altogether Allegoricall” or even partially so. These readings seem to me to misconstrue both the genre of the works and how they relate to history or to revelation. 241), but he is not a Christ figure except in his own OUP CORRECTED PROOF – FINAL, 11/08/2013, SPi 40 Shakespeare’s Religion self-pitying imagination.

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