This course will examine Shakespeare's dependence in select plays on the Bible and on the allegorical resonances of the medieval mystery play.
Some people say that King Lear is set in pre-Christian times. Yet there is at least one unmistakeable reference to the New Testament in that play, and it has been argued that when King Lear is reunited with Cordelia, he goes through the steps of Christian penance, well known to Shakespeare's audience. Bottom, too, in Midsummer Night's Dream, knows his epistles of St. Paul--well, sort of knows them; but in Bottom, we are not talking about a person of great intelligence, lovable though he may be. No previous knowledge of Shakespeare necessary.
Plays: Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merchant of Venice, All's Well that End's Well, Hamlet, King Lear, Winter's Tale, Pericles, Tempest. Bible, King James Version. Two short papers, one midterm, final.