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Title: Humiliation, redemption, and reformation theology in Shakespeare's tragedies and late plays
Author: Norton, John J.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3449 8183
Awarding Body: Sheffield Hallam University
Current Institution: Sheffield Hallam University
Date of Award: 2008
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Humiliation has a powerful presence in Shakespeare's tragedies and late plays. With an unusual ability to reform and redeem, humiliation is not employed in these plays as one might expect. Cast in a form much influenced by the Protestant theology of Shakespeare's England, the humiliation that falls upon some of Shakespeare's most prominent characters is one that offers great hope and clarity. Drawn from the theology of three prominent Protestant Reformers, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Richard Hooker, humiliation in Shakespeare's Hamlet serves to save the fragile queen and her sinister new husband from certain damnation. In The Tempest Prospero is humiliated in like fashion. This experience results in a more-than-magical reformation that turns the island into a place of reconciliation. King Lear's humiliation cures his faulty vision, allowing him to recognize a true love that pursues him with great passion and sacrifice. In Henry VIII the great Cardinal is averted from certain damnation, humiliation drawing him from a life of violence and manipulation. The jealous tyrants in The Winter's Tale, Cymbeline, and Othello are powerfully humiliated. This humiliation allows Leontes, Posthumus, and Othello to be released from their fearful bondage, at last made capable of seeing the true love of their wives. This thesis casts significant new light upon how much Shakespeare was influenced by the Protestant Reformation. Through a detailed examination of the use of theological language and concepts in the plays examined, this thesis argues that Reformation theology affords a powerful lens through which to read the journeys of the protagonists in Shakespearean tragedy and late plays. This powerful lens of Reformation theology brings to focus the way in which Shakespeare transforms, with great mastery, the humiliation of a man into the redemption of a soul.
Supervisor: Hopkins, Lisa ; Steggle, Matthew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available